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  • July 4th, every year

    99 degrees

    Humid, cooler by the lake

    98 by O’Hare, 99 at Midway

    this city is so cold

    that even in the heat of mid-July holiday

    more people are killed than on most other days of the year

    and train rides through Chicago equal shattered glass glittering like so many brilliant jewels on city street after gray city street

    55 all the way West

    Every few blocks or so the landscape repeats itself unfurling into a continuous closed down McDonald's Shamrock Shakes are back empty payday loans store boarded up windows home to one trillion and also those who died and those who were killed

    And how do you keep something meaningful when it is so commonplace because it gets harder and harder to find change after shootings and beauty in broken down gas stations and dead homes

    But then sometimes a baby smiles at you and you understand how you could get beaten down by the cold of the city especially in winter or especially in summer but you know babies smile from east to west sides of cities across the country so you can't be too angry at Chicago

    (unless you forget to remember that it's full to bursting with people too) and not just strangers and Bad Parts of Town and even though you Shouldn't Walk Alone at Night you still know

    (The demographics of bus riders change as you go west)

    When you say you love Chicago what you mean is that you love the

    Curve of the bean as it catches the sunlight

    Grid streets that go haywire as you go to the outskirts

    Arms of your people welcoming you home

    the veritable smorgasboard of language and skin color

    The change of the seasons

    The temperament with which Chicago resists it

    way you learn to not stand in judgment of those who are different

    Strollers full of grocery bags with baby wearing Cubs shirt you love

    That is what you love

    You love lolla2Ksomeyear and SummerFest but and also Summerdance and Taste of Chicago, Africa Fest and the Puerto Rican parade

    Concerts in Millennium Park and movies in other ones

    Faces on the fountains and

    how you don't know whether you're big or little looking at all your city from the top of the Hancock Building

    You love even the things you don’t love

    because here love is loving a whole even if you aren’t in love with every little parts

    The tic-tac-toe building you see when you drive up Lake Shore Drive and don’t make that an acronym if you want people outside the city to understand you

    The Loop, and defunct Michael Reese

    Sears Tower, you pretend for your pride because it's not WILLIS you say

    emphatically and actually it doesn't matter whether you wouldn't care if no one else did; caring because they do is also what you love

    Golden sunlight on your Lake Michigan which is sometimes yours and sometimes ours,

    baby, hold your arms open wide and take this city back

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