Women Smiling.

posted in: Chicago, Day In The Life, Luv, Paean 12
Woman, c. 1982. Photo: Wikipedia.
Woman, c. 1982. Photo: Wikipedia.


Walking through and around the Chicago Loop and its immediate vicinity makes me feel connected and strong. I want to walk here for a long time.

I see many beautiful things: a group of teenagers cavorting in front of a 7-Eleven, their youth crackling in the air; a seagull, flown in all the way from the lake, perched on a sign for the Washington Blue line station; the sun when it dips behind a Willis Tower. The city flowers in their planters. The cornices of the Harold Washington Library. Women smiling to themselves.

This last one keeps coming up.

Lately, I have seen many women in the Loop who are up to something good. They’re smiling like they’re in love. Or lust. Perhaps it’s their spouse. Maybe a new lover. Maybe it’s just a crush. (“Just”!) Maybe they’re smiling about last night — or this morning. Without question, it’s good.

It happened again this afternoon. I was walking east on Van Buren toward State. At the front of the crowd of people coming from the other direction was a woman, about my age, Korean, I think, smiling to herself. I glanced at her as we passed each other. She did not notice me at all because she was not particularly aware of anyone, or even that she was walking on Van Buren Street in Chicago. She was somewhere else, thinking about someone. It was obvious, even in the 2.2 seconds I had to read her face.

Maybe she was thinking about a text message or a flirt session with the object of her desire/affection. I’d like to think the corner of her mouth went up because she thought about she got the best kiss of her life this weekend.

Whatever it was, it was fresh. Nostalgia is not present in the smiles I’m seeing. These are the quiet, beautiful smiles of women — ranging in age, ethnicity, and physical appearance — in whom spring fever has manifested. I guess. That’s got to be part of it, right? There are countless ways to smile, countless reasons. What I’m seeing is particular.

Part of my happiness in witnessing this phenomenon is understanding how they feel. I’ve been that woman. I’m not right now, and I can say sincerely that it’s okay. I’ll be that woman again. As sure as the El curls to the west at Lake; as sure as the pigeons love the red Calder sculpture outside the post office on Dearborn; as sure as my tea in the morning, I’ll be walking through the Loop someday soon with my head in the clouds and a smile on my lips because of him.

It’s exciting, really. All that love on the way.


12 Responses

  1. Dorothy
    | Reply

    So are you saying that you need a man in your life in order to smile ???? For shame. Yes a man in your life is fine, but you do not need one in order to walk down the street with a smile on your face

    • Mary
      | Reply


    • Karen Stuhlfeier
      | Reply

      Maybe a woman smiles because she has a woman in her life – or she’s just happy being by herself. There are all kinds of reasons to smile and in this horrific time we’re going through in our country I think that it’s more important than ever to not think that our happiness depends on men.

      • It’s interesting that we assume Mary is talking about a woman’s love for a man in this (beautiful) post– when actually there’s no mention of gender regarding the imagined spouse, or lover, or crush– gender only comes into it when the writer looks forward to her own Spring fever induced smile.

        Sure, a woman’s smile isn’t dependent on love, but we see ourselves and our own desires reflected in others, whether it’s true or not. And in this case, I think the spark of love is a benevolent assumption.

  2. Kerry Leach
    | Reply

    It’s the little things that make me smile. This morning a little banter with an old man (didn’t know him) and we both went our opposite ways and smiling. Just a “good morning” to people on walks just cheers most people up. There are those that are sceptical and think you are up to no good. The other day for the first time a racing cyclist said “lovely day isn’t it?” as he raced by and we agreed. But it was pleasant – a lot of them want you out of the way, always an exception, sadly all too few here. The sun shining (here after a monsoon of a night) makes me smile – whoohoo – just a Tigger stuck up a tree type of day now. A waft of a gentle breeze as I go to sleep makes me smile (yeah, much more gentle than outside at the moment). Oh all sorts make me smile – even watching bees or feeding the wild birds, a smell of a scented flower, clouds you can make shapes out of etc. Hmmm, maybe that’s why some people look at me with suspicion – they think I’m weird! LOL!

  3. Kathryn Darnell
    | Reply

    Being part of, both of you, together is delicious, devine and delovely. I believe their is a soul mate, kindred spirit for each of us. I also believe that the TIMING of our meeting is part of that DEVINE planning. You are good, great and fabulous RIGHT NOW and I mean RIGHT NOW. There will come a time when your future takes a turn and that someone appears when you least expect it. You can then have that shared secret smile known only to both of you. You have fun this day!

  4. Carla E
    | Reply

    Love is in the air!

  5. Britiney
    | Reply

    Love this, Mary.

    • Ivy
      | Reply

      Me, too! : )

  6. Nadine donovan
    | Reply

    I know what you mean Mary- I have been witnessing it myself were I live. I love to see the little grins, smiles and content faces in my neck of the woods. Thanks for sharing!!!

  7. Shannan Sabby
    | Reply

    I get exactly what you’re saying Mary and I see that particular smile when I’m out and about. I actually MAKE that smile almost every day myself. I really enjoy seeing things through Fons-colored glasses!

  8. Christina
    | Reply

    Oh man, Mary! Not the update I was asking for in my previous post! I thought you were still giddy in love but I guess that was a while ago. I know you’ll find your person soon. How can you not make someone special smile the way you make your readers? That’s a good reason to fall. Loved this post regardless of my disappointment. I hope to be one of those women someday too.

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