To the editors:
Funny. I came to the San Joaquin Valley in '89 to escape the reality that is Chicago--the physical, psychological, and socioeconomic sadness that is the reality of Chicago so aptly depicted in Carl Watson's "Men in Cages" (November 6). And for 42 months I have bragged and marvelled at how I never think of Chicago, never miss Chicago, never even dream of Chicago.
Then one day UPS delivered a package from a "Chicago Land" friend; and that package was protectively lined with a crumpled edition of the Reader. So, sitting on the living room floor, leaving the gift unopened, I gingerly smoothed out the crinkled pages, poured a glass of the California grape, and planting knees and elbows into carpet, chin in hands, ass high in the air, settled in for a long autumn read.
By the time I finished Watson's last sensate sentences, I was overcome with nostalgia for the 20 years lived, loved, and lost in Chicago. Here in the sunny land of seven-year drought, where everyone is blissfully wasting water and perpetually "having a nice day," I was flooded with a mournful longing to once again catch the 36 bus on the treeless corner of Barry and Broadway and ride the un-tree-lined, rain-slicked streets uptown to Saturday shop the pawns, used-furniture stores, and Oriental stinky-dried-fish markets.
I don't believe Chicago will ever seem quite so bad, nor California quite so good, again.