Friday, June 22, 2012


     I like walks. I like the wind in my hair, the feeling of the ground under my thin flip flops, the noise they make as I wander, the feeling of the outdoors, and the freedom to go any where.
     When my family moved to our current home in Sacramento we were excited to be closer to the bike trail. "We will go every weekend now its so close," we said. "We can even bike to the lake," we said.
But the thinking of going biking all the time is very different from actually doing it. We constantly ran into excuses. "My bike has no air in it." we said. "It's too hot" we said. "We're too busy," we said. "I don't even have a bike," I said.
     As much as we originally said we would go biking, it just never happened. Then on my 16th Birthday my friend came over, we wanted something to do, but we didn't have a car, and Sacramento isn't exactly known for its public transportation. So we resolved to for a walk to curb our restlessness.    
     As we reached the bike trail, the sounds of the city faded away. Long gone were the sounds of cars whizzing by on the pavement. Lost were the sounds of kids and their dogs. We left the scent of freshly cut grass and boiling asphalt behind. We had barely walked half a mile and the only trace of humans was the bike path and the neat yellow line running down its belly.
      Along the trail we saw wild flowers bursting through the grassy meadows, dear grazing and pausing to see who was passing through their emerald lands. We heard the calls and chirps of finches, crows and magpies, working a symphony with the ra-ta-ta-tap of woodpeckers and the constant wushing of the river.
     As we reached the river we were greeted by the uneven and smooth stones under our feet, the cold tickle of the water under our toes, the smell of fresh earth in our nostrils, and the sight of this beautiful oasis tucked into the outskirts of suburbia.
     Since then my family and I have made the short trek to the river many times. During the summer its our weekend ritual to walk down to see the sunset, and feel the cool breeze as we escape from the heat of Sacramento.
     This summer is different. I decided to spend it in Chicago to continue my studies, and I am working for SAIC as a Summer Resident Educator. (its like being an RA, but for the high school students who are studying here for the summer) So i've been missing the escape the river had always brought me.
     Chicago is a much bigger city than Sac and also boasts its own river, but it is surrounded by concrete and even had its flow reversed in the 1900's because it was polluting Lake Michigan. I crave the escape the calming summer sunsets the river brought, the escape from noise and people. In Chicago its hard to get away from city life. The beach is fake, its sand imported, it lacks a tide, and the people who visit it take no regard for others so its littered with every thing from wrappers, to broken liquor bottles and even clothes. Its noisy with seagull calls, car honks, and police sirens. The shores of the beaches provide no escape for me.
     The only place that brings me peace is a gated park just north of Navy Pier, Olive Park.
 -Its named for a Chicago native Milton L. Olive III, who served in the Army during Vietnam. He gave his life for his fellow soldiers when he threw himself over an enemy grenade he was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor and a Purple Heart.-
      Its such a peaceful place, the tree lined main path reminds me of the bike trail back home. The cool breeze from the lake washes over you and takes the sticky humidity of the city away. Deeper in the park is a fountain long drained of its water, providing a gathering place for water after summer showers. Its here that reminds me most of home. I sit on the edge of the fountain with my toes in a puddle, leaning backwards to lay my body on the dewey grass that surrounds it. If I close my eyes and put on my headphones, I can forget everything on my mind. I can ignore the noise of the city. I can escape the smell of warm sewage and sweaty tourists. I can leave the taste of dirty air behind. I can forget all my worries, and my homesickness for my river path. I can forget how much I miss my parents, and my dog. I can forget all things I have to do, to remember whats important, and for a moment I am back home sitting on the edge of my river with my toes in the water my body on the grass, and my head in the clouds.

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