I took off late Sunday, just as the sun was setting. Mother Nature had carpet bombed the tollway with potholes. As I got close to O’Hare Airport, traffic slowed down. There was an accident in the left lane and everyone needed to stop and see. I’ve seen crashes before; this one didn’t merit much more than a glance. However, the traffic in the sky was something to behold. The planes were lined up with their landing lights glaring. They looked like a third row of streetlights hanging overhead. They would slowly grow bigger and brighter. I didn’t think planes could fly that slowly and still stay in the sky. Suddenly they would swell and rush over with a loud whine that I could hear through the car even with the heater set to maximum.
I drove through the last of the I-PASS lanes. Traffic spread out and I sped up past the Addison exit. The weather was cold, but the sky was clear. The tall buildings downtown lit up the darkness like ghostly apparitions. They reminded me of great coral reefs as seen from under the water. They grew clearer as I approached. The John Hancock building stands farthest north with a bright horizontal line cut across the top. The Sears Tower towards the south is a random assortment of rectangular windows. Its two antennae are bright white as lit from the base, pointing up like fingers. In the middle was a new – dimmer – building, the Trump Tower. The last time I drove through it wasn’t complete and its presence was a tall shadow on the rest of the skyline.
I raced past the Morton Salt factory and slipped into the cave of bridges and underpasses. The expressway slipped below the average ground level, making the buildings look even taller as I drove past. The highway twisted towards the lake south of the city center and I got my favorite view of Chicago’s Loop out my driver side window. I don’t know if was completely worth the traffic and the tolls, but it was definitely the highlight of my drive.