Chicago is feeling a little fuller lately. Normal weekend traffic seems even more sluggish. There are more people walking in the neighborhood wearing Cubs hats and jerseys. A stream of folks are coming out of the train from the suburbs, trying to orient themselves towards Clark and Addison, their mouths agape. Lines are forming at the bars at 9am. Helicopters are hovering overhead, and the camera crews have already staked out their corners. Hours before anything is happening, everyone’s jockeying for position, and I’m just trying to get home.
In a big city like Chicago, there are occasional big events: Obama comes to town, Beyonce has a concert, Hollywood headliners come for a movie premiere. All newsworthy, and causing some ripple of change in the flow of the city. But the World Series feels different. Or at least, this one does. We had barely arrived in Chicago in 2005 when the White Sox won the World Series. That was followed by three Stanley Cup wins, so sports success feels like a given here. But during baseball season, I’ve had an opportunity to learn about the Cubs’ woes: the drought, the curse, and the years of longing and disappointment for fans. So I can appreciate, in some small way, how exciting and terrifying this year must be.
We live near Wrigley Field. I walk past it most weekends, and can see it from the train on my way to and from work. From our building’s common roof deck, we have a beautiful view of the lit bowl of the stands. But tonight I’m happy to be slightly removed from the frenzied fans pressed together around Wrigley (police are trying to limit that crowd to 300,000) and those crammed into the numerous bars in a one mile radius. Plus, it’s the weekend before Halloween. There are block parties for kids and traditional trick-or-treating, but the bulk of the crazy comes from adults running from bar to bar in costume, so I’ve learned that for “big” events, it’s usually better to stay in.
I can’t claim to be a big sports fan, but I’m holding my breath, listening for the excited shouts from the bar across the street that tell me they’re doing well. Go Cubs Go!