It's late on a Friday afternoon turned evening... and yet it feels like I'm not even at the end of the day, let alone end of the week. Do you ever have those times? Although this week has escaped me, I must turn back to a few days ago and be grateful that some of this time warp is due to me stepping away for a long weekend that extended into Monday. For those who follow me on social media, you may have already seen that I took a trip with my mother to Chicago; I love that city so much and watching someone else experience it for the first time is so gratifying. The only thing that put a small hinderance on our trip was witnessing the aftermath of COVID. Walking around downtown we saw several businesses with modified hours, closed doors for the near future, or even permanently moved out with lease signs in the window for the next hopeful tenant. A local chamber member (Bill Berghoff of Sportsplex USA) has a family owned restaurant in the area that I was excited to take my mom to, but like many others, their doors were closed to the public until regulations lossen to make it financially worth reopening. I was disappointed to hear from him that I wouldn't be able to go in this trip, but couldn't help taking this picture under their outdoor signage after we stumbled across it by accident one day.
As my mom and I popped in and out of several tourist attractions, we were often educated on the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, 149 years ago to the day as we mark the middle of their three day blaze. Although I had heard the story before, the lesson stuck with me more this time than ever. I heard a tale of something so impactful for a community, devastating so much of their town and making a third of their population homeless. Although many could have left and started over anew anywhere but there, they chose to stay and rebuild. There was quite the debate on what started the fire, but in the end, it didn't matter. What mattered was the people didn't JUST rebuild, they reimagined the city for what it could be and springboarded their town into bigger potential than it was previously living up to, growing it into more than it was before the fire. It really made me think of our current situation and how impacted we all are from this pandemic. BUT, we have some choices. We can let this steamroll us and become part of the ashes of what once was, or we can choose to be more than we ever were and persevere greater, stronger, more united and push ourselves out of the abyss and into the light. I look forward to watching businesses rise and continue to pivot into bright versions of what they may not have imagined for themselves otherwise. And in a small nod to another great town, I hope to "Chicago" our way into the future and build Santee into all it can be.