Flowers for the Birthday Girl


And with that joyful noise and a million others like it, oh my oh my did we make sure she knew we were glad she was alive.

From the high-rise rooftops up and down the Gold Coast to the three-flats in Pilsen to the walk-ups in Humboldt Park, we made sure she knew we were ready to help her celebrate.

Everywhere you looked, the sky was painted every shade of every color. Gold flowers, red stars, blue streams and flashes of the most brilliant white you have ever seen against a nighttime backdrop.

Sure, some of us fought with her. Any good relationship has that. Maybe we didn't see eye-to-eye but we all thought - no, knew - she'd come around. She did before; she would again.

"You've been through much," we'd say, "so how can you look past this?"

She's given us grief, that's for sure. Run over every man at least once. (Okay, almost every man...) Alienated more than a few women to boot. Stepped on more than one person on the way to becoming who she is. We know this. We accept this. We forgive this. Because we know in our great big heart who she can be if she'll just listen to us. To herself.

Which was why, tonight, through all the good and bad, we put on a show and she couldn't help but know what we meant. From the six points on the way to the Ridge to the Corridor aqueduct; from the view of the Park to the back way through the Yard; from the highest balcony to the lowest gutter and every place in between.

It was our way of telling her: Happy Birthday America.