Remember that time that car drove into a crowd of people in Berlin? It was Christmas.
It was awful. A terrorist drove a van into a market in Berlin and I thought of Claus, of course, because Claus lives in Berlin. What I never got around to mentioning is that when I went to visit Claus in January, my hotel was practically on top of the site where that man did that. It was just a few weeks later, when I walked past for the first time. There were still many lit candles. There were still framed pictures of people who died, pictures of those injured irrevocably.
Ruin and death.
Last night, I had dinner with Heather in River North. We had tacos. Afterward, I walked her to the bus stop at Watertower Place. I blew a kiss to my friend as she boarded the bus north and after we waved to each other through the window, I turned to walk the 1.8 miles home, straight down Michigan Avenue. It was obvious that’s what I’d do; I had seen the news. I needed to be around other people. The air was fine, I was physically fine, and I was wearing my hat.
Baby, you should’ve been there. The world was out there. Families. Couples in love. Teenagers. Older folks. Babies in strollers. All of us, on a mild summer night in one of the greatest cities in the world, walking along the sidewalk to get across the great Chicago River, all of us together there on the DuSable Bridge.
It would’ve been be so easy to plow a car through us all.
Michigan Avenue is a sitting duck, really. So many people to hate, and for endless reasons. All it would take is a head start, maybe followed by throwing the car into reverse to catch a few more of us. You know I’m on that bridge all the time. I’m on Michigan Avenue probably 300 days out of the year. So are many children, young lovers, old folks. Last night, we got across.
As I approached Polk Street, almost home, I heard music. My heart leaped when I realized Summerdance was going on.
Summerdance is this sublime summer series in Grant Park, right here in my neighborhood. Every week, pretty signs are stuck into the grass and a modest stage is set up in the clearing for a band or DJ. And every night, Summerdance celebrates a different kind of music. Like, one week it’ll be salsa, the next week it might be swing, or Calypso — really, any and every kind of music you can dance to gets its turn from summer to summer. There’s more: Professional dance teachers come and teach you steps from the stage! Some folks who come to Summerdance are incredible dancers and some people have two left feet, but you have never seen so many smiling people together in your life.
After the lesson, for a couple hours, the band or the DJ plays music so people can dance their news steps, under the trees, under the stars, together. There are usually about 400 people there. There is no racial demographic. All are welcome. All come.
Here is what is true:
I’m not doing enough to help protect the people on the bridge on Michigan Avenue. I’m not doing enough to keep Summerdance safe. It’s good to write to you, my friends, about how beautiful it is to be among all of my American brothers and sisters. But the internet is not enough.
If I don’t do more than I’m doing right now, the bridges will burn. The music will stop. And that’s just not gonna work for me.
If you’re new to this blog, and the Google people tell me there are, you should probably read this.