The Sights, Sounds, and Smells of Downtown Chicago

Monday I did something wonderful. I took my first walk through downtown Chicago since late April when I broke my foot. I’m still in an Aircast, but I’m getting around well enough to walk alone.

It felt fantastic.

First I walked from my physical therapist’s office to the main Chase bank branch on Monroe and Dearborn. I’d been hoping to sit in the lobby area overlooking the plaza and fountain and rest, but it was under construction. As is everywhere near downtown Chicago these days it seems.

Downtown Chicago Sounds And Smells

On the way, I enjoyed the variety of walking up and down curbs and uneven sidewalks. Also enjoyed skirting street signs (one sideways from recent wind storms) and passing people moving more slowly than me as they stared zombie-eyed at smartphones held out in front of them.

I loved all the city sounds: horns from impatient drivers, conversations all around me in multiple languages, sirens from a few blocks away, seagulls squawking at one another over territory.

And the smells.

Rich caramel and cheese from Garrett’s Popcorn, dark roast coffee, exhaust fumes, the spray of water from a fountain.

It felt as if all my senses had gone on high alert after so many weeks mostly in my condo and then a week outside at the retreat.

I did get outside a bit before that onto my deck. Here’s a view from there of a recent sunset:

I also got to do two of my favorite things in the last two days. One was to read at a coffeehouse, as rather than stop in the Chase building I went on to a Starbucks two blocks away.

A Digression About Starbucks’ Distressing Remodels

This particular Starbucks is on Monroe and LaSalle Streets.

It used to be one of my favorite Starbucks to visit. Unfortunately for me, it’s been revamped and remodeled like many downtown Chicago Starbucks. Gone are most of the comfortable armchairs and nearly all of tables and chairs at a height where I can have my feet on the floor. Now most Starbucks seem to have tall bistro tables that I find far less comfortable.

When there were normal chair and table heights, I used to be able to set my shoulder bag or purse on the floor between my feet and loop the strap over my knee to guard against someone grabbing it without my notice.

The bistro-height chairs require me to choose between hanging my purse or shoulder bag over the back of my chair (a gold-plated invitation to have my wallet stolen), putting in on the floor out of my reach where it can also be easily be snagged, or resting it awkwardly in my lap.

Back To My Favorite Things

Needless to say, I visit Starbucks a lot less now. But happily Monday I did find one armchair in a corner where I could rest my injured foot on an air conditioning vent, read, and look out the window.

The second thing I love to do is to write at a coffeehouse. (All this despite that I’m not a coffee drinker. I favor tea or hot chocolate.)

And, to my delight, I discovered that a Dollop opened only a couple blocks from me. The closeness makes it easy for me to take my laptop there.

After 2+ months of writing at home at my dining room table (not even in my home office, as I couldn’t put my foot up there) it felt wonderful to write again among the buzz of conversation. And with a view of the outdoors. That’s what you’re seeing just beyond my laptop and Aircast in the very first photo of this post.

After the walk my mood lifted. My writing flowed more freely, and I felt more in touch with the Chicago my characters live in.

I also felt more in touch with the joys of my own life. Not being able to walk for many weeks brought home to me how much I love the city I live in and how many wonderful parts of day-to-day life I’ve been taking for granted.

I hope I’ll remember that even if my recovery continues to progress well and I eventually am completely healed.