I was running down the lakefront path. To my right, LSD and the whirl of buses and cars rushing up and down the highway. Just beyond that was the parking lot and main entrance to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I spent about a dozen Shabbat afternoons every year walking down from Lakeview to the zoo. “The zoo is free, so you can even go on Shabbat!” I would tell all the new people at shul. What a novelty it was for me to have Lincoln Park, the conservatory, and the zoo all within a short walk and completely accessible for those of us who tried to avoid spending money or driving in cars on Saturdays. I breathed deep and looked to my left.
I looked out to Lake Michigan, North Avenue Beach and Cast-Aways. It was early May, so there were some boats on the lake, dedicated sailors hoping to get a head start on the season. The beach, the path, the people watching down here were all reasons I moved here. I smiled and looked up ahead.
Hancock, Aon, Trump and Willis jutted up and out of the skyline. From my time as a tour guide in Chicago, I could list off unusual facts, past owners and architects for each of these testaments to the genius of modern construction. Chicago is home to the architects and engineers that built 80 of the top 100 tallest buildings in the world, and I was looking on at least 10 of them right there, across the sky. The skyline was the picture from a postcard that I got to say was the view from my backyard. I sighed and closed my eyes for a moment to help remember the entire panoramic view of my run, one last time.
This was my last run by the lake. I was grateful to get out and run as much as I could, but it still, at this very moment, did not seem like it had been nearly enough to take full advantage of what I had here. Dear Chicago, I thought, you are the biggest little city in the U.S.— rich, classy and cosmopolitan while holding on to your welcoming and warm Midwest charm. You taught me the importance of community and the strength of your Jewish community. You brought me the finer things in life like afternoon games at Wrigley, meals of the most delicious deep dish pizza and the smell of baking chocolate when you step off the train on days when the wind is just right. I learned a lot about love and met the love of my life in Chicago.
Most of all, I think I will miss my time on the lake. Running down the path at all times of the year and all temperatures of the seasons. There were days that I remember riding home on the bus and seeing the runners and bikers and bladers on the path. I was practically ready to jump off the moving bus to join them. For all of these reasons and others I can’t quite put my finger on, there were few things I loved more and few ways that I could find more peace than a run down the lake.
In early May, I took my last run down the path. On May 12th, I boarded a plane and moved to Washington D.C. It was the end of an era and the beginning of so much more.