January 13, 2005
Today during class the strangest thing happened. I was in the middle of a lecture about the influence of advertising on the editorial decisions of mainstream magazines when suddenly the faint sound of a marching band wafted into the room. Confused, I lost my train of thought and started to follow the sound, which seemed to be seeping in through the room's closed windows.
Our classroom's windows overlook a slightly downtrodden edge of Chicago's downtown--not a place where you'd normally find a marching band--and we opened the blinds and strained to look into the murky dusk for the source of such a boisterous sound. Finally, in a parking lot two blocks away, I made out the distinct outline of sousaphones twisting and turning to choreographed dance moves and behind them a tiny drumline rat-tat-tatting their way across the dingy lot that sits next door to a homeless shelter.
I wanted to throw open the window and bring the sound in more, letting the trumpets blare through the room, but as I went to fiddle with the latch one of my students pointed out that it was freezing outside, the air dense with a misty fog, the result of a 30 degree drop in temperatures from yesterday. Yet, on this inhospitable night--a weekend-long freeze just starting to settle in--and in the most unlikely of locations, there they were: a marching band creating the most beautiful racket I'd heard all day. And it made me realize that even during a week where every surprise has been terrible, sometimes the unexpected can be truly amazing.