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Blood On The Sidewalk

Once my husband retired, we started working on our dream of living in downtown Chicago. (OK, it was mostly my dream, but Ernie liked the idea too.) After a long search, and nine months of renovation, we moved into our beautiful new condo in the 800 North Michigan Avenue building. We spent way more than we’d ever planned, but after seeing this building, with its unobstructed lake views, perfect retail location, and an indoor swimming pool (!) no other building came close.

I was also excited about its proximity to the El. We were only 1 ½ blocks from the Red Line stop at State and Chicago. When we moved in I was still running Awakenings and commuting to the Gallery 3-4 times a week. Parking near the Gallery was terrible, and I was looking forward to taking the El.

Less than a year ago, I was walking west on Chicago Avenue to the new Whole Foods when I found myself in a crime scene.

I had not watched the news that morning. There had been a shooting at the McDonald’s at State and Chicago, the previous evening, and five people had been killed. There were police cars everywhere, along with glass and debris. And blood still on the sidewalks. I had almost walked through it.

There are many things that could be said about the upsurge of crime in Chicago after Covid. Many people have said many things, and that is not the conversation I’m having here. Am I scared to walk in my neighborhood? No. Am I scared in my building? No, of course not, and I completely get how lucky I am to be able to say that. Do I take the Red Line any more? No.

I am not sorry we moved. For a while, I asked my husband almost every day if he was sorry I had moved us here. He told me over and over again that he’s right where he wants to be. That was the only thing that made me feel better.

How do I talk about this? I feel white privilege guilt every time I even try. I think about children who grow up in neighborhoods where shootings like this one are a regular occurrence. I ask myself what my friends of color will think if I start whining about violent crime near Michigan Avenue. I think I know. I think they think, welcome to our world, bitch.

My world has changed. Everyone’s world has changed, post-Covid. I think back to the days before my twin world-changers, Covid and cancer, changed me. What did I think about when I hopped on the El to go to work or to a meeting in the Loop? What was it window-shop and spend time in stores just looking around? What will this neighborhood look like in five years? And will all my new wealthy neighbors ever stop putting their homes on the market?

I don’t have answers. So I sit down and write out all my questions. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it doesn’t. Today is one of the times it didn’t.


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