This City, Above Others

by G.T.

     I’m always awake in the mornings. Sunrise for me is sunset for you. Noon is midnight. Dusk is dawn. I’ve always been this way. The mornings, just before the sun comes up, is often a time when my mind runs unfettered. Wild as a result of sleep deprivation, over-caffeinated madness, drunkeness, cleared of standards and moral obligations and social norms. Then again, I’m always like this, but after midnight and before six a.m. is when I feel it most. I usually try not to join my friends at a restaurant looking like I just woke up from a night of downing five bottles of sangria. That is, I’m more inclined to walk into a Joliet diner looking like this at four in the morning. Always well dressed, of course, however disheveled and unbuttoned my outfit may be.

          I like driving around Joliet early in the morning, and thinking about Joliet while I drive. My favorite stretch of road is Jefferson Street. All the dusty neon signs: “Food & Liquor”, “Psychic Reader”, “Gas N Lotto”, “CHECKS CASHED 24 HOURS”. Jefferson Street is a seedier side of town: one direction leads toward corn fields, and the other direction leads to the even seedier Eastside.

     I like Joliet, just as much as the Southside. The suburbs are a waste of time, but I don’t consider Joliet a suburb. It’s a town that is independent of Chicago, large enough to function without being under the vast shadow and influence of Chicago. What I like most about this town is one truth that is present no matter where you go. Most towns have what is accepted as a “good neighborhood” and a “bad neighborhood”, where one area is perceived as safe, and the other side as unsafe. Joliet doesn’t have that. The whole town is fucking sketchy. You’re at risk of anything no matter what side of town you step foot in. I look at this characteristic as honest, as much as it may be dangerous. It’s true anywhere you go. Does it matter what neighborhood you’re in? I don’t think so. Sure, there’s parts of Joliet and other towns that are more questionable than other parts, but overall, it doesn’t matter where you are. Go ahead and tell me that Naperville is such a nice town. Under their streets, the sewage is just as filthy as the sewers of Joliet.