August 5th, 2008

gasmask

The sky came down and kicked my ass

I was walking down Michigan Avenue, heading home after my German class last night, when I saw a glistening sheet of rain coming down from the sky high above me; it was visible in the lights of the Wrigley building, and it struck me that never before had I seen such a distinct sheet of rain falling to earth.

What hit the ground was more like a shock wave than rain. The water flew sideways, gusting like bullets, and I was nearly immobilized due to the force of the wind. Sirens were going off, barely audible above the roaring wind and pounding water bullets. I made it to the end of the block where Michigan crosses the Chicago River and came to the realization that there was NO WAY I was going to attempt to cross the river on foot under those conditions.

My hat blew off and nearly flew down into it, but it was caught by the railing and I ran back for it. I managed to get under a bus shelter, but there was no escaping the rain. I held my umbrella like a shield over my face so I wouldn't be sprayed in the face, but all the rest of me continued to take a beating. I seemed to be in some kind of a rain/wind tunnel, and the tiny bus shelter felt too exposed, so I made a mad dash and bolted across Wacker drive.

On the other side I huddled against the Crain Communications building, still exposed, but there was nowhere I could see that looked any better. Debris was whipping around in the wind. Chunks of stone (or cement?) lay in the street. The sirens continued to blare as I crouched at the foot of the building, continuing to use my umbrella like a shield. It constantly blew inside-out and then back to normal, and I felt like I was being attacked.

All this time I'd kept my eyes open, scanning the streets for a cab, but there were very few vehicles out, and the cabs that drove by all had passengers. So I sat there for 20 minutes being beaten by God the rain and wind, until I saw a bus come to a stop on Michigan Avenue.

I ran as fast as I could to get to the stop before the bus continued on - I had no idea what bus it was, it didn't matter - and thankfully made it on board. The bus driver asked me, "where are you trying to go?" and I told her, "I'm trying to not be outside." I rode with her for a while, until it looked a little safer out and we passed a brown-line L stop.

I couldn't stop shaking as I waited for the train; I couldn't tell if I was shivering from the cold or shaking from the shock of having been through something incredibly violent. Probably a bit of both. When I made it home I looked on the internet and read that 90 mph winds had ripped through downtown Chicago. So that's hurricane strength wind that I sat outside in for almost half an hour.

I threw out my umbrella; it had bent into a strange, unusable joke.

Today I still don't feel "myself". I feel dazed and my head feels thick. My eyes have dark circles under them. Maybe I'm coming down with a cold.
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