going back to chicago

Sometimes I go back to Chicago in my mind. It’s not like going there physically. It’s riskier. It’s reliving memories of what used to be, putting on my silver, pinky, fish ring.

I return to grad school, to wanting to teach English lit., to talking with Vershawn about must-read books like Sula. I return to the Starbucks down the road from my Polk St. apartment where I’d write instead of grade and to the long red suede coat I found at a thrift store–it was a size too big but it was so cute and looked good with my tall black boots, blue 1970s polyester skirt and cream turtle neck.

Winter was crisp and freezing cold yet somewhat magical amidst the city haze. Buskers reminded you of the truth in dreaming. Dreams were plentiful and jobs weren’t a question. Everything was still possible.

Living in my memories of Chicago does have a plus side–I’m challenged not to settle, not to get lazy, to continue exploring and setting high bars. But then sometimes I linger in these memories far too long. In those moments, I forget to be present here, hopeful here, faithful here.

As the song says, “I wouldn’t trade nothin for my journey now.” It’s been full and filled with a lot more ups than downs. Still, I return my silver pinky ring with the fish that swim around and around to its spot on a sparse metal jewelry tree. I keep the ring because the memories are good. I put the ring away so that today has a chance to be even better.

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