Just about ready to leave Chicago. I've been more than ready for a day or so, but it's not really been all that bad. Spent some time in the old 'hood, and felt a bit of comfort that much of what was there when I lived there has remained, even though gentrification has made some inroads and some young hipster entrepreneurs have opened some shops.
I woke up early this morning, or rather, I woke up a number of times during the night, seeing how the hotel is right next to a busy fire station, and decided to stay up, get an early breakfast and snap a couple pics of the city at the crack of dawn. The continental breakfast wasn't set up yet, however, I had seen a roach coach from the window of our room. I headed toward it. The guy operating it was asleep in the front, keeping warm and waiting for the occasional customer. I poured myself a cup of coffee and went to pay for it. I was able to pull out my broken Spanish with a $20 bill he couldn't break. He was going to let me slide, which was nice of him, yet I went back over to the hotel to get cambio.
I wanted to get a photo of the culprits who woke me throughout the night, and I didn't have to wait long. The ambulance pulled out of the engine house fairly quiet, only the rattle of its diesel engine making noise, then wailing and horns commenced, like some mighty wave burstng forth through a narrow crevice in rocks (hey, it's the best image I cold pull out in my sleep-deprived state). I am no longer accustomed to these sounds. When we lived here, I barely noticed any emergency vehicle sirens coming my way. Now... Anywho, when I get a broadband connection and if I have any pics worth showing, I'll post a few.
Went back inside for breakfast. One of the attendants said good morning and something clicked in her dialect, but nothing solid. A family came in for breakfast, and she and the adults started speaking Spanish. It was a Puerto Rican dialect. I was back in the 'hood. In fact, they were talking about the 'hood, Humbolt Park, considered the primary Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago, and the annual festival that takes place there each summer. Lots of memories, good and bad, which may or may not make it their way to these or other pages someday. After the family left, she and I talked a bit, although there were constraints to the conversation. She was polite, and deflecting. As we were talking, the other woman who worked in the breakfast area joined the conversation as she had lived in Humbolt for a time as well. As I was leaving, I overheard them talking about the gentrification of the neighborhood. I had been one of those interlopers.
Today it's a trip to the burbs for an early Christmas. Much of my side of the family will be there, aside from a few notable MIAs. Prolly some NLHE tonight. Lots of food, for which we have been in training the last couple days, then off to my Dear Mother's for a few days.