Fresh Air

The day finally arrives for me to go downtown for the first time with my brother Edgar. The air is crisp, like if a god made it fresh out the oven. The train’s cool air goes against my skin, pushing my hairs back, and moving my shirt like a flag in the wind. The sweltering heat transitions into cool air in the train. The lines on the CTA map are so confusing, like looking at a Where’s Waldo page. All the sky-scraping towers above me. The automotive voice from the train says “This is Roosevelt, transfer to green, red, and orange line trains, at Roosevelt.”

The second I step off the train, the humid air hits me, as if I could breathe water vapor. The horizon contains the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Planetarium. Last but not least, the Roosevelt skatepark with the Metra beside it. There are many places, and shops, there was a gas station (BP), Trader Joe’s, Dunkin Donuts, and a Starbucks. I exit the train with my brother, and we walk past all the tall buildings. I see all the street artists doing their own little thing—there are bucket drummer performances, and little chess stations to play an official game of chess. The significant sound of the metal grinding when the train turns on its brake. All the little dots on the concrete sidewalk, with dirty, dried pieces of gum. So much action going on—every way I turn my head, something else is going on. I see the people on the street, directing the cars. I ask my brother Edgar, “How can anyone do that and not get hit by a car?” I think to myself that that was a silly question. My brother replies to me, “There is a spot in the intersection where the cars don’t travel through, which is where he stands.” He looks at me as if I was sarcastic. I think to myself, if there are street lights and lamps, for cars to stop, go and slow, then why would there be a necessity for those jobs to be there?

I continue going down to the street towards the the Dunkin’ Donuts. When I walk in the temperature changes significantly—it was frigid. The air is filled with caffeine, making my blood rush. We don’t stay for long—just a snack—and we go.

We went back to the intersection and took a right, and we arrive at the skatepark. I didn’t skate at the time, but it sure is nice to see all the people with drenched backs, no t-shirts on, tanned. The sun is making every person’s back an ocean of sweat, and their mouths were a drought. Most of the faces are red. “You want to ride down one of those ramps?” my brother says. I take my skateboard, and I don’t develop the amount of courage it takes to ride down one of those ramps. So I shake my head no. I should have done it though.

We walk down to the beaches. The skies are clear and orange, and as the sun starts to go down, we see the Ferris wheel in the distance. The cool breeze passes people, laughing families, people arising from their tanning sessions. All of the families arising to go home for the night. People coming with multiple other people to have parties on the beach. Everyone having a great time even if they leave the beach. I see everyone having an amazing time, if nothing were to happen, not letting any bad things take them out of the way. The sun sets in the distance. I close my eyes and say to myself, “This is heaven, this is Chicago.”

Read more from the publication This is Heaven, This is Chicago.

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