I love traveling light. Give me my laptop, the bare necessities clothing and toiletry wise, and send me on my way.

It’s how I did Chicago this week, and it made the four block jaunt between my hotel and the CTA Orange Line a breeze.

I could have easily taken a cab, but to quote my friend Dilcy, that would’ve set me back more than a few limes.

Had I done so, I also wouldn’t have experienced this umbrella sharing moment with a lovely lady at the corner of Roosevelt and Wabash.

By the time I reached the crosswalk, I was already a wee bit annoyed. The light mist had turned into full on rain, leaving my Samsonite weekender, non weatherproof laptop bag and windbreaker clad me a soggy sight.

I was staring at the Starbucks across the street, willing the little green “Walk” symbol to hurry up and come on already when she spoke.

“Would you like to share my umbrella?”

I’ll dry off eventually, and I’ve almost got a Pike’s Place Grande in my hand, right? 

“Oh no thank you, but that’s very nice of you to offer.”

And much appreciated following the fellow two blocks back who apparently had nothing better to do than give grief to passersby.

“That’s a Southern accent,” she continued. “Where are you from?”

In this particular 48 hour tour of Chicago, I’ve been asked that question. A lot.

It’s just too confusing to say Texas. Plus, my beloved Heart of Dixie is always on the tip of my tongue anyway.

No sooner had I said “Alabama” than her eyes lit up.

“I’m from Atlanta! My dad’s from Birmingham.”

Turns out he’s from Mountain Brook, one city over from mine.

“Well, stay dry and I hope you enjoy your time in Chicago.”

As she walked away, I remembered a particularly apropos quote from an interview with Diane Lane in this month’s Southwest The Magazine.

“Life is absurd.”

And certainly it is – lots of times. But happily, that absurdity is often punctuated with little slices of humanity, usually when and where you least expect it.

To this morning’s crosswalk acquaintance, thanks for being that for me.

May we all go forth and create the moments that make life a little less absurd.