A few weeks ago my husband and I visited Chicago - it was mostly a business trip. I love big cities. They are so different from my home turf and have so much going on. I love to get the feel of the place, look at the people, see what they take pride in. I have to admit, Chicago was a surprise. I thought it would be a run down gangster city but it was beautiful. So clean and well laid out. A river ran through the middle of the city and there were pristine beaches along Lake Michigan. I hardly saw any beggars - which have been common in every other city I've been in. The people seemed happy and were friendly every where we went. We walked a lot and felt safe in each part of town we went to.
As we explored the city, I drove my husband crazy by stopping every few feet to take a picture of some object or building or other things that seemed to capture the essence of the city - the Chocolate Cafe', the architecture of the water towers, the ritzy stores, Portillos, Hard Rock Cafe', the skyscrapers, the beach, and so on. Chicago is known for its abundance of unique architecture. This is do in part to having the city burn down in the late 1800's and be rebuilt. I think credit also goes to Frank Lloyd Wright, a renowned architect, who lived there. we got to see the famed house he designed.
I got caught up in the smallest details of these sights, honing my camera in on specific spots of buildings and not just the entire thing. The details were what caught my interest because they are what make the city unique and are the things I wanted to remember when I got home. I tried to capture every little thing and paid careful attention to anything that seemed to say 'this is Chicago'.
As my husband and I were eating chili dogs at Downtown Dogs [in Chicago it is okay to eat hot dogs! apparently it is something they are known for just like Italian Beef, Deep Dish Pizza, and having two baseball teams] my hubby posed the question: What is Utah known for? Of course the immediate response it 'the Mormons and Temple Square, or skiing, or the 2002 Olympics'. But aside from that, we wondered what makes our cities and state stand out - what is our claim to fame? Maybe it would be Lion House rolls or saltwater taffy. Fry sauce would definitely be on the list. Other than that we couldn't come up with much. Even though we love it here we couldn't think of things to brag about.
That's when I wondered if I had ever looked at Salt Lake or Ogden or Provo or my hometown with as much scrutiny as I had Chicago. What details of my home state had I missed because they were so ever present I hardly noticed them?
During this same trip I spoke with a man from a New York City company my husband had been associated with. He lives in downtown Manhattan. I told him all the things that thrilled me about NYC. He nodded then raved about the view of the mountains from downtown Ogden. We both laughed that we got excited over things the other saw every day - and hardly noticed because they're just there.
It's so easy to ignore the obvious. The details of our lives blend in with the surroundings instead of standing out and being noticed. Since I've been home I've tried to be more aware of the details that make up my town and home and the people I love here. When we first moved here over twenty years ago and I thought our stay would be short, I used to love to explore different streets and parks. I liked the old buildings on Main St - they had character. I'm not sure when I began taking them for granted - probably when I got so busy keeping an eye on my kids instead of what was around us.
Details are small things that make the ordinary things become extraordinary. I don't know if I will ever visit Chicago again but going there awakened me to a sense that there are many things to discover all around us, every day and every where. And a camera isn't necessary to see them. All we have to do is open our eyes and minds - and see.