To the editors:

Funny. I came to the San Joaquin Valley in ’89 to escape the reality that is Chicago–the physical, psychological, and socioeconomic sadness that is the reality of Chicago so aptly depicted in Carl Watson’s “Men in Cages” (November 6). And for 42 months I have bragged and marvelled at how I never think of Chicago, never miss Chicago, never even dream of Chicago.

Then one day UPS delivered a package from a “Chicago Land” friend; and that package was protectively lined with a crumpled edition of the Reader. So, sitting on the living room floor, leaving the gift unopened, I gingerly smoothed out the crinkled pages, poured a glass of the California grape, and planting knees and elbows into carpet, chin in hands, ass high in the air, settled in for a long autumn read.

By the time I finished Watson’s last sensate sentences, I was overcome with nostalgia for the 20 years lived, loved, and lost in Chicago. Here in the sunny land of seven-year drought, where everyone is blissfully wasting water and perpetually “having a nice day,” I was flooded with a mournful longing to once again catch the 36 bus on the treeless corner of Barry and Broadway and ride the un-tree-lined, rain-slicked streets uptown to Saturday shop the pawns, used-furniture stores, and Oriental stinky-dried-fish markets.

I don’t believe Chicago will ever seem quite so bad, nor California quite so good, again.

Carol Mercaldi-Cotton

Merced, California