Sometimes I feel like I live in two different neighborhoods that exist side by side simultaneously. One is the neighborhood I experience when I take the Lake shore express bus, down Sheridan road, then a straight shot down to Michigan Ave. It's a lovely trip, when there is or isn't traffic, the high rise condos just obscuring the lake on Sheridan, the sun glinting off the water, Lake Shore Drive's sinous route along the lakefront parks and bikepaths, the harbors full of boats and the beaches. And then Michigan Avenue with it's hyper shiny store windows and people-watching from the bus window. On a good day, I can be home or to work in 35 minutes. The walk to and from the bus stop at Rosemont and Sheridan tree-lined and shady, a mere block away.
And then there's the train. 40 minutes and more reliable, but a trip that involves the backs of buildings, increasingly those cinder block condos, along most of it. A few abandoned lots and greasy storefronts through uptown. I read more on the train, especially when it's underground. But what was seriously yanking my chain yesterday was the rather disturbing walk from the el station to my building..two blocks..but an altogether different area. Since I'm usually travelling around later at night when the streets are more deserted, it's usually not an issue. Maybe an occasional dealer on the corner. But at 5pm, it's all out in full force. Not only did I get sparechanged four times in two blocks, but was walking behind a rambling man who looked as if he'd pissed himself. That two blocks along Granville with its absense of trees, and thus glaring sun, it's liquor stores and abandoned storefronts. And in broad daylight, it's really sort of gross.
I'm actually rather fond of the neighborhood in all. All within a block I have a tiny bookstore, a cool coffee place, and the a rather scrumptious thai restaurant. Go further afield and the lake is a mere block away....stand at the corner of Granville and Kenmore and you can see it, just past the tiny park and its two mansions owned by the Chicago Park District. Go further south two blocks and there's an honest to god sand beach. North, the Loyola Campus. Going west is the only yuck factor, although that's the direction in which one needs to go to reach any sort of retail outlet.