Chicago Cabs

I took my last Chicago cab tonight.
$12.50 fare from downtown to my apartment;
I gave him $16. Is that too much? Pr’bly.

Breakfast waiters and waitresses and cabbies ..
They’re really the only ones I’ll tip more than
I figure I should. It’s a hard life, either one.
Breakfast waiters and waitresses.. they spend their
Saturday and Sunday mornings pouring your coffee so
You have the luxury of letting someone else prepare
Your food. Cabbies.. yeah.

I have a good friend.. well, really he’s a good
Friend to my man. But he’s a Good Man. Which
Make me want to count him as my friend even though
We don’t know each other all that well. Tommie.
He drives cab in a small town in western Wisconsin.
He used to make a good living, but it wasn’t much of a
Life. Funny that. Seems sometimes like you have to
Sacrifice your living in order to safe your life.

He was a good cabbie. Quiet. I like quiet cabbies. I’m
Not good at small talk and I don’t like cabbies who feel
I need to be entertained. I think all he said was Thank you
When I handed him the fare. He drove well, which is saying
A lot of Chicago. Not dangerous, not too fast, but fast enough
Slipping in and out of the late Thursday traffic on the
Drive. I wondered if I’d miss it. Madison is wonderful, but
There’s something about the anonymity of a City. Something
About stepping into a cab on a street corner and becoming part
Of the maze. Even when the maze is dirty and ugly.

In a macro sense, I know I won’t miss Chicago.. much.
I’ll miss.. those rare nights downtown. Walking through
The snow on the way to the L after dinner with a friend in
From out of town. Watching the snowflakes fall in front of the
Lights on Michigan Avenue. Shivering as the trademark wind blows
Them down my collar. Feeling free in being no one.

But my sense of security.. and that’s a lie. A lie I tell
Myself and my mother. I feel on some level a part of the city
On those nights. Others.. usually when I’m walking home from
Some event or late night on campus, I feel vulnerable. I feel
That THEY can tell, can read my affiliation with the prestige
And the money. I walk a little faster; hold my cell phone in
My hand. My fingers on the speed dial for Emergency.

It shocked me how empty my apartment looked when I walked in.
It was the wall hangings. My undergraduate degree, my cork
Bulletin board, the photos of my friends and family. I never
Realized how much they made my apartment feel like home until
I took them down and walked in to the street light stained walls
With nothing on them. It feels like living in a tenement.

It was a more swank establishment than I’d been expecting. I
Was underdressed, but I doubt anyone cared. My classmates seem
So fundamentally different from me tonight. I’m not sure why.
That’s a lie.

My new life starts soon. New.. and I think it will be better.
I can be me now, which got lost somewhere in Seattle. Shuffled
Under the bed or into the dust bin with the scraps from dinner.

I don’t have to be Anyone now. I can be me and me doesn’t have to
Be consistent. Not to say that I’m not, but the freedom not to
Have to be is relieving. The knowledge that he loves me, even when
I’m not, maybe especially when I’m not, frees me from the chains
That have trapped me in the past and made my life limp.

I took my last Chicago cab tonight.
I pr’bly tipped him too much.
But it was worth it.

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