I used to dream. I used to dream at an oft-overlooked corner of Northwestern University, my alma mater, where a double-decker parking garage met Lake Michigan.
This mass of contoured concrete embodied the accomplishments of modern Man and His ability to corral elements together into useful shapes. It stood out to me as a rare example of parking on a campus with very little.
I worked next door at the Northwestern Sailing Center, earning my meager work-study wages in exchange for spying upon our vessels plodding to and fro upon the lake from the crow’s nest. This unknown spot offered a dazzling view of Chicago’s skyline.
I used to dream. I imagined I could actually sail one of our vessels competently, an unlikely dream given my lack of desire to dedicate time to learning to sail. I liked the idea of sailing; actually learning about things such as the capricious wind and bowline knots, not so much.
Everything at that corner of Northwestern seemed impossible to me. How did they get a parking lot approved, right there on that prime spot of lakefront property? Why only two stories? Why not dig deep and provide parking for all? Oh, right, money and politics.
And that massive oceanic freshwater puddle. How the heck did that come about?
And then the buildings, the jagged monstrous edifices of the hog butcher of the world, the terrible magnificence of Chicago. How I loved that place, that swallower of dreams. Those buildings. How did men and women and gods construct each and every one?
I was a poor kid from rural Ohio at an elite university. I didn’t know or understand much at that time. But I knew, standing there at the sailing center just hoping to earn my eating and drinking money for a future weekend, that all things were possible.
Maybe, I thought, even affordable healthcare for all Americans. Those were the days of Hilarycare. Those were the days it seemed impossible and possible at the same time, that we might one day get people to spend their own money on healthcare, perhaps instigating a rational pricing structure.
But congressfolk and regular working folk like me like things just the way they are, with our subsidized healthcare to which we give no second thought as it quietly helps our country slink toward collective destitution.
Maybe, I thought, someday. Not today, but someday. Maybe.