Friday, January 23, 2009

Loyola Walkabout

Get out I did yesterday afternoon. I hopped on the first bus I came to and headed north, a direction I hadn't gone much, with a vague intention that the bus went to the Loyola University campus. When the bus driver had no idea which stop took me to Loyola, a kind teenager suggested I take the train instead. So I got off and hopped on the train and true enough, there was a stop right at the edge of campus.

I strolled around having no idea what was even there to see. One student suggested I visit the Student Information Center, a building of windows that you could see through to the lake.
Unfortunately for me the blinds were down on the windows to block the afternoon sun and this building required a Loyola student ID to enter. But from what I could see, the view was indeed lovely.

Sitting nearby the shiny new modern Information Center was an older building inscribed with the Latin words for religion, philosophy, learning and more, with beautiful (locked) patina'ed copper doors from the 1920's. I suspect it was the former library, now replaced by the modern glass building 20 feet away.
Before I headed south on the train, I stopped into the school's bookstore/coffee shop and had a snack.

It was while eating my muffin and drinking my lemon Italian soda that I met 19-year old Pedro. 22Jan_0071
Pedro joined me on the couch with his Statistics textbook and blue highlighter and we soon fell into conversation. As the first person in his family to graduate highschool and go to college, he is determined to work hard and make his immigrant parents proud when he becomes a highschool teacher. Although he still lives at home with his family in a nearby suburb to save money, he spends as much time on campus as possible to try and get the "real" college experience. "Maybe next year," he said, thinking about what it might be like to live on campus. Pedro proudly told me about returning to his highschool this past December as one of a handful of "Returning Scholars," former students who had gone on to college or university, and who wanted to share their expeirences with current highschool students to encourage them to pursue higher education. He told me how most of the male students wanted to know if the partying was good. Pedro laughed, and wisely told me, "They'll grow up soon enough. They'll learn that to be something you need school and you need to work hard." We talked about Central America, and the lives his parents had before coming to the States in their home countries of Guatemala and El Savador, and about my recent move to Chicago. Soon I said I should head home and do my own studying, and leave him to his stats text. As I walked away Pedro called out, "Welcome to Chicago, Kelly!"

Sunset through a dirty train window

I met Phil as I was waiting for a bus home after getting off the train.
Several of us stood in front of a run-down grill and taqueria, waiting for Bus 36. Not the best part of town, I hesitated to bring out my camera and take pictures. After furtively snapping just one of a building that vaguely reminded me of New York's Flat Iron building, a voice behind me said, "You can take my picture. I'm going to be famous one day, so someone should take my picture." Instantly charmed I took Phil's picture as the bus pulled up to the curb. Heading south on Broadway I felt a tap on my shoulder. Phil, holding out a little slip of paper with his address on it asked if I would mail him a copy of the photo I took. "Sure," I said, "Do you also have email?" He paused a moment and thought..."Is that the address I have to access on a computer?" He added that information to his little slip of paper and handed it back to me. As I stood up to exit the bus at my stop, Phil called out, "Remember me, Kelly, I'm going to be famous!"


Molly W. said...

Hands down my fave is the one of the door handles, love that. Hilarious stories btw! You're a charmer that's fo sho!

DeniseMarie said...

Hopefully he doesn't mean INfamous....for shooting all of his coworkers Monday morning or eventually being tagged as a mass murderer of random women he meets on city buses.

b said...

What a quirky and fun day. Don't you just love meeting nice, friendly people who aren't out to a.) swindle you b.) hit on you or c.) stalk you?

I just love meeting people who surprise you with courageous friendliness and humor. 2 in one afternoon--pretty lucky.

Hopefully you stay in contact with Pedro.

bonny with a Y said...

I love this story - and I love how you blessed these people's day.