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    Posted March 2, 2014 by
    Chicago, Illinois

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    Behind the scenes in the motel district

    After almost 15 years as an avid Chicago explorer, it wasn't until last week that I discovered the fascinating strip of classic Chicago motels on the North Side. It was brought to my attention by one of your iReporters. This specific motel caught my eye, so I decided to locate my tripod behind a mountain of dirty ice and snow and take a few photos. Not a real story. At least not yet. However within seconds it suddenly became one. A group of middle school children (as a former teacher I still classify children by grade) leisurely eats snacks in a close-by fast food joint. It is Monday after school. Monday, no less. The end of that one day that probably feels endless to children that age. Also the best day for anything out of the ordinary to capture their imagination, a radar for potential signs of adventure materializing in their Monday tedium. They probably wonder who on Earth is that lady hiding behind the pile of snow, holding a tripod and a camera pointed at the motel rooms. If that is not a call for action in a hero's journey, what is! The children exit the fast food joint and approach me. I can see their reservations and concerns. I'm an inexplicable presence invading their settled routine with gear that they can't fully figure out. Needless to remark that they might have some far fetched idea of what I might be doing in that predicament. They have almost made it to my location. Almost. Here is when the initiation ritual takes place. The decisive moment in which a true leader has to prevail over betrayal and human weakness. Second thoughts take over everybody except one child. They look at each other and orchestrate massive attrition while the only brave spirit remains standing in front of me, pretending not to be scared. Only pretending. "What are you doing?" He asks with that kind of insurmountable curiosity that compels us to take the biggest risks. It takes me less than seconds to reassure him that my endeavors are purely artistic and community oriented. It takes him even shorter to figure out that at one point or another I've been a middle school teacher and therefore totally harmless. He listens to my short story and walks away with great pride, back to his scared crew. They all look at me from inside the fast food joint. Judging by their stares, I'm no longer a former teacher participating in an art community activity. I'm probably a secret agent, a foreign spy, a villain or a super hero in disguise. Who knows! and who cares! It doesn't matter who I am. The important thing is that someone set his mind to prove his courage to his peers and passed with honors.
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