a logscribble by hvincent

Before I left Boston, I put the majority of my winter travel luggage in a box and shipped it ahead back to Pittsburgh, purely for the sake of not having to lug around a duffel bag of extra clothes and hiking boots during my 9-hour layover in Chicago. I was surprised to find locker rentals available in Union Station, because I was under the impression that all public transit terminals stopped providing lockers due to security concerns.

I have never been in this part of Chicago in any recent memory. Photographs from my childhood show multiple family visits, when my parents' fascination with their ability to get in a car and go somewhere meant frequent trips to anywhere within a stubborn day's drive from Iowa City. I've been to Chicago once as an adult, for a writer's conference during my undergrad years.

It's quiet outside of Union Station; traffic is light while I pick my way over the ice to look for a Divvybikes station. I have a few street names in my head; I know if I get on Canal St. and point myself roughly towards the least dense part of the skyscape, I will probably reach the lake.

There are a few bike lanes marked, and sparse signs with a bicycle icon and names of other streets I almost recalled. 'Archer', 'Lakeshore'. Other signs mark bus routes and streets. I blow past Harrison, Wentworth, warehouses. I aribitrarily pick 'Archer' as a waypoint. Most of the cars and trucks are polite to this idiot tourist on a fat blue bikeshare.

Canal St. takes me over the canal. The open grate rattles against itself, and I cross the seam at the same time as a box truck, and only pedal harder while the gap spreads underneath us. Archer St. turns into Chinatown. When was the last time I was in a real, solid Chinatown? I'm laughing to myself as if I just have a natural affinity to float into the nearest lychee vendor whenever I'm trying to wander aimlessly.

I'm worried about time, because I only get 30 minutes per bike hop before I start paying by the hour. It cost me $9.95 for unlimited 30 minute hops for the next 24 hours, with a $1200 fine if I fail to return a bike forever. I never know how much time passes when I'm riding; the city bike is a sluggish, heavy boat, and I don't know any distances here. As soon as I find a station to park and swap for a new bike, I look up and realize I'm in front of the Chinatown branch of the Chicago Public Library.