As a freshly minted college graduate waiting for the paint to dry on my diploma (there was a spill…), I’m still developing my capacity to complete the daily commute. I have heard horror stories of road weary professionals commuting by plane, train, Segway, or blimp to locations ranging from Andorra to Mordor. This stands in distressing contrast to my understanding of a commute, which during academia years meant the journey from my bed to the bathroom. During that voyage, the only traffic I encountered was other roommates and debris from last night’s party. Now, as I ricochet from school into real world, it’s time for my real education in the morning commute.
I live on the border of two Chicago neighborhoods: Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village. Occasionally I straddle this abstract border and loiter in Wicker Village or Ukrainian Park. One phantasmagorical afternoon I think I even discovered a Wicker Ukrainian.
I work on the 16th floor of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago’s downtown Loop. Google Maps tells me it is 2.6 miles away but as someone who struggles with punctuality I think they should factor in the vertical commute at the receiving end. So with a 331 ft elevation change let’s call my commute an even 2.6627 miles.
Until Chicago finally completes a zeppelin and zip line system—sustainable, but a safety hazard—my commuting options include the paradoxical underground elevated train, bus, taxi, foot, bike, hitchhiking, Zamboni, or infant stroller. While I’ve considered each individually and in combination, I’ve settled on bicycling because I have a snazzy helmet that reminds me of the Commander Keen video game.
So after the howls from my “Agitated Lemur” alarm clock rouse me from slumber town I sprint through my bathroom commute, toss on a neck noose, and jump on my wheels. The first person I interact with in the morning is the drowsy Dodge driver I cut off as I cross Ashland Ave. Then like butter on a chalkboard, I glide over to Milwaukee and sew myself into the string of bicycles commuting to work.
Every morning has ups, downs, potholes, snowdrifts and loopty-loops when I enter the Loop. At the corner of Kinzie and Milwaukee, I bike past the Blommer Chocolate Company where I enjoy approximately 13 seconds of sublime olfactory bliss. Soon fudge melts into urban haze and I arrive at the Thompson Center.
It would take an intricate novella or nimble interpretative dance to explain how I deposit my bike in my building’s basement and trek up 331 ft but let me just say Blommer Chocolate is not the only Willy Wonka-esque moment of my commute.
So I suppose I’m now an adult with an adult commute. Yet is this really something to mourn when my mornings are full of cocoa loops in addition to Cocoa Pebbles? Maybe I should celebrate the quacking lemurs as a sign of a new morning adventure. That or I should just lobby the governor to finish the zip line…
Pic Credit: Art Rock (Hennie)