I feel as if I’m time-traveling.
First, from spring back to winter. Old snow mounded on the ground, a chill wind hurting my ears (sounding mean, not like the ocean in a seashell), the trees without buds or bloom. Instead of birdsong, cigarette smoke and sirens. Chicago is two hours ahead of California, but two months behind.
Then, the vivid memories of being here in this hotel on the river last year and years ago, winter and summer, spring and fall, sitting out on the riverwalk at evening with a margarita and a book, watching the sparkle of water from behind the big windows in the late morning, being miserable, being love-struck, feeling my life changing dramatically and knowing I would never be here in this place again, finding myself still watching lights come on at dusk and dark ten years later, and ten years more, watching the fireworks in a celebratory mood or in a pensive poignant mood set off over the lake from the light-bedecked Navy Pier, which I see from this window well and from another only obliquely, being terribly sick in this room or a room higher up above the river but just like it and ordering chicken soup from room service which tastes after being so sick like heaven, life itself, the seasons and the years all mixed and muddled, friends here with me and gone, everyone moving on, love finding me and my finding the bridges arching with delight, the lights thrilling in this city so far from home, from love just found, the fireboats spraying water like the geysers my parents watched in Yellowstone long before I was born, my mother and me too arriving here by train when I was three or four or five, not knowing that I’d ever come again, to this city she knew, that I would on this lake I cannot even name, with strangers, see the millenium turn. And fifteen years later, watch that unknowing child get on that train again without turning, heading back west, heading for what would one day be.
image: Chicago River and Wacker Drive at Night, Daniel Schwen