(Instead of writing myself, I am sharing some of Jocelyn’s writing. She is only 14!)
I count each step as I go up them, one block of cement after another until I reach the end of this dismal tunnel in the form of a large, grey, plain, metal door. The only hint of what’s hidden behind this exit are muffled sounds and a slit of light escaping from beneath the door, adding just a little brightness to the dimly lit hall. I reach for the handle, cool to the touch, and yank the heavy door open with all my might then step outside into the chill November air. Immediately I’m blasted with a burst of icy cold wind, which seems to make the city even colder than anywhere else, and the noise of a very busy city. My nose is assaulted with the scents of perfumes, exhaust fumes, and roasting coffee, which seem to surround and follow the crowds.
All around me it’s like a hive full of busy bees. People rush off to their destinations, some rushing in anticipation, or maybe they’re late for an appointment, some dragging their feet as if they’d rather be anywhere else. Tourists aim their cameras at the buildings, public art, street drummers, and their wide smiling companions, rapidly snapping the camera button so as not to miss a single second of photos. Mothers drag behind them whining children, and a couple beggars sit at corners, making me wonder why they don’t take advantage of the care houses provided for them. Even though I’d been seeing these same sights since I was a young girl, I still stared at all of this around me in amazement. The sidewalks are packed with people, and the roads with cars, all of them honking at each other as they try in vain to make the traffic move quicker. Off in the distance I hear the thp thp thp thp thp of a drill on cement and the clank clank clank of metal on metal from a nearby construction sight that I can clearly hear but not see. All the noise and excitement wash over the city, coating it in a layer of noise. But it’s a good noise that some might find overwhelming, but I sincerely enjoy.
As we begin our journey down the sidewalk, I do something like a jig to avoid smashing into my fellow side walkers. As I continue on, I’m amazed by all the shows of original art and artistic structures on show for the public. An entire side of a hundred story building is painted in dedication to the people of Chicago, splashed with vibrant oranges and reds, and streaked with deep purples and blues. A Hispanic woman, her hair pinned in a perfect bun and a flower behind her ear, is caught frozen in the picture, for ever twirling in dance to the tune of a painted trumpet played by a rather plump man. flowers, art supplies, music, and instruments are also displayed in the painting, all seeming to blend and flow together as if a river had been allowed to run down the paints before they dried completely.
The buildings in Chicago are spectacular. Though they are not meant to be art, they may as well be. A few are ancient, beautifully carved of stone, but most are modern and coated with windows. Taller than the tallest of trees, the windows shine in the glorious reflection of the midday sun, and my breath escapes me in awe. I must have taken a million pictures of the amazing sights. I shield my eyes so the sun won’t burn my eyes as I try and follow the buildings to where they end in the sky. They seem to touch the heavens with their height.
Looking back, I realize that the city of Chicago was and is a canvas. Over the years it has been decorated with glass windowed buildings that seem to reach up and touch the sky, reflecting the beauty around them. Splatters of paint, public art, rooftop gardens, all of these add to the picture, even the graffiti on trains and down deserted alleyways add to the originality that is purely Chicago. But what adds most to the splendor is the people, their unique styles, cultures, clothes, ideas, hopes, and dreams, all mixing together. Like the different ingredients in Jollof rice, all coming together to make one delicious meal, all coming together to make one beautiful Chicago.