I am being haunted by the city of Chicago. Seriously. The entire city – or at least the spirit of the city – haunts me nearly daily. I thought I was imagining it, but now it’s become so blatant and commonplace that I find it amusing. At first, these sightings would have abrupt physiological effects on me, my heartbeat would quicken and I would gasp. As the apparitions became more regular, I would have a momentary pause of disbelieve, my eyes would bug out and I would tsk. Now the manifestations are so frequent that I find it funny, I roll my eyes and snort. While it used to be creepy and spooky, now I embrace it. Chicago is haunting me.
These ghostly meetings probably aren’t what you’re picturing right now. It’s not like a sheet-covered Sears Tower walks down the hall saying, “Oooh! Oooooooh!” (I know it’s not called the Sears Tower anymore, but I am not ready to refer to it by the name of a British insurance bloke. Call me old-fashioned. You’ve probably called me crazy already, so one more round of name-calling isn’t going to hurt.) The poltergeist takes far subtler forms, which is how I know it’s a genuine apparition. You see, folks, I see Chicago. When I open the local paper, there is a story about Chicago. If I glance at the football game my husband is watching, the score for Chicago flickers by at the bottom of the screen. Chicago comes up in fictional books I read, people mention it out of the blue, I hear it on the radio. If I’m watching a sit-com, there will be a poster of Chicago in the background. These Midwestern manifestations appear all around me.
That’s not a haunting, you say, that’s just coincidence. Chicago is a big city, it’s in the paper a lot, people talk about it, our fair president lived there for goodness sakes. Yeah, it’s true. I’ll give you that. Believe me, I’ve reminded myself of these facts many times. If it were any other city – say New York, Los Angeles, or even Boston or San Francisco – I wouldn’t give these encounters with this urban spirit world another thought. Perhaps it’s merely the fact that I’m noticing the mysterious appearances of the Windy City that have created a snowball effect. I’ve considered all these possibilities. Do you think I want to be haunted by Chicago?! Look, do me a favor, take the next couple days to notice it in your life. Please let me know if you read, see or hear the word “Chicago.” Please post your experiences on my blog. Hey, maybe the city is haunting everybody, and it’s not just me!
Why would Chicago be haunting me anyway? That one is easy. You may know that I am a hopeless improv comedy addict. And you also may know that Chicago is the mecca of improv comedy. In the 1950s and 60s, modern improv was born in Chicago through the loins of Paul Sills, David Shepherd and Del Close. It came of age at ImprovOlympics (iO,) The Second City, Annoyance Theatre. The usual first-string players, New York, L.A. and Toronto, merely are the comic children of Chicago. When Lorne Michaels wants to adopt a new comedy SNL baby, he checks in at the delivery rooms of Chicago. As you plainly can see, on a professional level it makes perfect sense that Chicago would call to me.
On a personal level, there are several old friends who I haven’t seen in a long, long time for no good reason whatsoever. I find it impossibly ridiculous that twenty-five years can speed by without looking into these friends' eyes. This life error must be rectified as soon as possible. Many of these friends live in Chicago.
If you believe in respectfully attending to messages sent by the Universe (and I do,) then you know as well as I do that this haunting should not be ignored. Rest assured, my wise friends, that plans are in place to for me to go to Chicago in late April 2010 during the Chicago Improv Festival. I shall pay homage at the shrine of Del Close. I shall selfishly over-imbibe in gallons of top-shelf improv. I shall fondly look into the eyes of old friends.
I thought that making these plans and announcing them to the Universe (by way of Facebook, primarily,) the spectral encounters with Chicago would cease. However, I must confess the phantom appearances have only increased. So perhaps in putting the facts of my haunting on virtual paper the Universe and Chicago will get the message that I get the message. Okay, already, I get it! I get it, Chicago! Don’t make me go all Ghostbusters on your ass. I see you, Chicago. I welcome your presence into my life, Chicago.