I was first in this building back when I was assisting for a magazine and we were doing an in-house ad, “these are the people that read this mag!” Yeah, whatever.
It’s an old CTA substation up by DePaul. I was a block away for a shoot today and just happened to be walking by it. There are three buildings of it’s design in Chicago-land. This one, which is owned by a well known sculptor. Another in Oak Park, which I’ve also been in, humorously enough, which is owned by another well known artist and occasional sculptor. (Both work a lot in metals, hmm.) The third is on the south side somewhere and is apparently an industrial business of some sort. Metal work I believe. (hmm…)
Why do I love these buildings? Good question, thanks for asking. Starting from the front, if you go back to between the first and second window, that portion of the building is living space. 3 floors of pretty good size living space. The rest of the building is wide open. It’s an empty space. It also does have rails between the upper and lower sets of windows which hold an industrial strength winch, for lifting and moving CTA “L” cars.
If/when I get one of these buildings, I’m not entirely sure what I’d do with it. I might turn the open space into a giant studio space, it would rock. More likely, I’d turn it into a forest. Plant a couple of trees, get some birds, a few animals, and have my own Eden in the city. I always want to escape the city and get to the woods, but it’s hard to find the time. Imagine just coming home to it. It’s a large enough and well enough lit space to hold at least 3 large trees and some smaller foliage. Maybe a little pool, by little like 15 feet round with a stream.
And remember that industrial winch on rails? Imagine using the bracing of that, removing the hardware, putting in a sheet metal floor with small holes punched in, so you could see below you, and were able to look out over the forest. That would be my main living space. A bed, a bathroom (bathroom, no doors, just curved semi-opaque glass) and a little relaxation area. All open. Just my tree house above my forest in the city.
I dream of that space, I have for a long time, I always will. The details of getting there I just don’t know, but it’s a dream, I may find a way, but part of the joy is in having the dream.
Okay, so of my three “big” dreams, that’s number two. Let me give you a run down on one and three also.
Three is the least likely. Quit everything, move to Hawaii, surf in the morning, take pretty pictures of nothing meaningful in the late afternoon. Just escape the rat race, escape responsibility. It’s my escapist, won’t happen, and wouldn’t want it to happen dream, but it gets me through those tough days.
My number one dream, I’m pretty sure I can pull off. It’s going to be a few years, but I’ve got the initial plan, it’s just doing some foot work, and when I decide to do it, which I get closer to every year, I can get everything together in under a year.
I’m going to get myself a canoe, a bunch of supplies, cameras, solar cells, tent, sleeping bag, all that good stuff, and I’m going to canoe the Mississippi-Missouri-Jefferson. It’s a little under 4,000 miles. I figure it will take 9 to 18 months. I’m not going to worry about just doing it. I’m going to use it as a conduit to explore the country and understand myself. I’ll blog the whole thing of course (it has some good book potential, and blogging might be able to provide me with a modest income while doing it, not to mention I’ll need to be journaling in some fashion, so why not do it publicly). I’ll probably make it a largely one way communication though, only one person with my email address, no incoming cell phone, all that good stuff. I’ll occasionally invite a friend to join me for a week, but not many, and not often. Mostly, I just want to meet the people on the central artery of this country. Talk to them, get to know them, document the river. The escapist aspect has been noticed also.
It’s a very doable dream, not easy, but definitely doable. The key is going to be getting to a point where I have nothing, or little, to leave behind. I’m not saying that is a good thing, but the closer I get to there, the more I see this as a viable option. I’d put 2 to 1 odds that I do it, someday. My best guess would be five years.
I’ve had a lot of serious life lately, and that’s fine, the last year has been wonderful, and horrible. If nothing else it’s been meaningful, and I wouldn’t give it back for anything. On the other hand, it has been hard, some days very hard. So I do what many people do, I escape into my dreams sometimes. Maybe I see my dreams as being a little bit more doable than most though (outside of my moving to Mars dream, that’s really unlikely.) I guess I understand having to do stuff in life, and I support it, but maybe those dreams I have, the dreams you have, maybe I just see, believe, they can be lived, if we want to live them. Saying that makes me want to leave next week, but I’ve got a few more good years, then I’ll be gone, and why not? I always wonder, why not live your dreams? Nothing stops us but us, and a strong enough desire to fulfill the dream.