Fold the newspaper. Buy a cup of coffee. Clamber aboard.
I’m about to head to downtown Chicago again surrounded by commuters if it is early morning and concert and theater goers if it is late afternoon.
We all opt for a window seat if available. But how many of us really look out the window?
Heads bury in sports or business sections. Other travelers pull out their Blackberries, Smart Phones, iPads, lap tops. What good is the window seat except for shoulder support?
Once they reach downtown, commuters head to their offices with rapid strides or jostle for space on a bus. In the afternoon, show goers walk or hail a cab.
Did any of them know they passed a stunning art deco entryway or architecturally important building?
After returning from a publishing seminar on a recent windy (of course, it is Chicago) but sunny late afternoon, I was lucky enough to be sitting near a gaggle of youngsters and parents returning to Wisconsin after a day in Chicago.
“Wow.” “I loved Chicago.” “It’s so clean.” “I saw…..” And so the conversation went.
The comments continued as the commuter train whipped past warehouses, condos, cemeteries, parks, busy streets and churches in the city and changed to spacious yards, larger homes, shopping strips and more open areas in the suburbs.
“Did you see…? “Look.”
I put away the Sudoku and crossword puzzles and looked.
Yes, I love Chicago and its buildings, but am I really looking?
Sometimes, I walk instead of taking a bus from the train to the museums, meetings, shows and restaurants I cover. But rarely do I slow my pace to admire or snap an art deco doorway or sculpture just inside an office building.
Visitors don’t have that familiarity breeds blindness disease. They snap away with phones and serious camera equipment.
I also love the suburbs and taking scenic drives or visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. But when on a local train traveling through very familiar (I think) suburbs, my thoughts wander to grocery shopping, articles to do and event schedules.
Wait, was that a new sculpture in that suburb’s downtown? Hmm, I don’t think I knew that coffee shop was there, close to the train station. If I hadn’t heard that “look” earlier during the ride I would have missed seeing the sculpture and shop.
Driving around my area proves to be little better. The next day is for within-five miles errands. Armed with water bottle, I buckle up and start down the driveway.
A mild winter and early spring has encouraged early blooms and early construction. Both distract from quick errands.
The slower pace means more time to recall and look for what my granddaughter sees when she sits in the back seat peering out the window.
“Look. Archways,” she often says.
Yes, today I actually look for branches reaching over streets to form bowers.
“Weeee,” she says as we crest a street. Yes, I notice our neighborhood does have some rolling roads.
As I park the car at a frequented grocery, I sit and wonder: Is the road or train ride oft taken really less of a travel trip then a journey through less familiar surroundings?