On the Weather and the China, Pragmatically

Winter is coming.

(God, can you tell that I’m impatient for new Game of Thrones? I’m about to dive into the books, so wish me luck. I’m usually a book-before-television kind of girl, but when they’re as complicated as this story, it’s usually a good idea to be able to visualize characters and general plot trajectories.)

But seriously, winter is coming. The cat is eager to snuggle against me, stealing my warmth and reminding me that I’m only good as a food provider and occasional attention-giver. The windows have been closed, but if you aren’t quick enough to grab a towel when you step out of the shower, the air feels crisp and cold through the windows. The plus side to all this unease about winter is that there will be snow for potential snowboarding (I still haven’t figured out about that this year) and that I will be able to drink hot tea without feeling silly. During the winter, I order tea by the case and drink it all day.

The thought of hot baths is a welcome one, but it’s also interspersed with images of standing on the busy street next to my house trying to scrape off my car in between spurts of traffic. It’s interspersed with ice chipping and sliding and being late because I forget that you have to warm up your car before you can command it to warm you. I’m excited, I swear. I love hot cider (with rum!) and crunching leaves and snowboarding, but I hate being cold. Unfortunately, those things are a package deal.

Colorado is one of those magical places where it can be like 40 degrees in the morning and then 85 in the afternoon, so there are at least two months a year where I’m just plain uncomfortable. I’m cold or I’m too hot, overdressed because I was concerned about being too cold. It’s terrible. And while the answer is layers, layers, layers!, I still haven’t found tearaway pants that don’t make me look like I’m about to play basketball or a stripper. (That’s a joke – I don’t want to own tearaway pants.)

(Hilarious [to me] story about my brother: When he was in 8th grade, he was at the high school to play basketball, and in front of the entire girls’ team, he ripped off his snap-away warm up pants only to realize that he hadn’t put on shorts.)

Yesterday was one of those days. I knew that it was going to warm up, but I was cold. So I wore jeans and a t-shirt and managed to nearly melt into the pavement a short time later. I hung out with a friend that I’ve not seen in a long time, and after grabbing lunch on Saturday, we headed to the local farmer’s market on Sunday and then off to the flea market.

I had never been to Denver’s flea market before yesterday. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I found that it was a lot like the Maxwell Street market in Chicago and the Muizenberg market in Cape Town: lots of pure junk and then some awesome stuff. My friend was looking for furniture for her house – she has lots of space and a small budget. And of course, Pinterest has made us all believe that we are DIY-masters. (We’re not.)

I wasn’t looking for anything specific, but since I love shiny things, I knew I’d want to buy something. As we wound through the aisles – just like Muizenberg – clothes, and tires, and clothes, and auto parts, and clothes, etc. – I spotted them. Dishes, laying in a pile on a blanket.

Salem China Company English Village Flea Market

I knew I wanted them. I have loved the blue/white china patterns since I was a little girl (thank you, Grandma, for always having blue dishes – I think your taste in plates led to a subconscious love of blue that I will carry with me forever. You’re not wrong to love the color combination).

I failed miserably at bargaining – something I’m usually really proud of. Africa taught me a lot of things, and one of them is the art of negotiation. The approach, the feigned disinterest after initial interest, the offer, the rejection, the walking-away, the wait!, the agreement, the deal. Yesterday went like this:  $50, they’re worth a lot more. Will you take $40? No. I’ll be back. $45? No. Fine, I’ll take them. Do you have a box?

My friend, on the other hand, had someone much more willing to negotiate and ended up with a record player/cabinet thing (I’m sure it has a name) for well under the initial asking price.

Both of us walked away satisfied. I got home and Googled the dishes. They’re antiques, made by a china company that stopped making stuff in the early 60s. They’re worth a lot more than $50 – replacement pieces start at $5 each and go up to $25 for a teacup and saucer and much higher for the plates, so I’m thinking that even though there was a breakdown in bargaining, I made out all right.

All in all, I got more than 25 pieces: 6 dinner plates, 6 teacups and 7 saucers, 6 fruit bowls (dessert bowls?), a serving platter, and a large(ish) bowl. Somehow that counted out to 29 last night as I was washing them, but now it doesn’t seem to add up. 27? Whatever. I’m pleased as punch about the whole set, even if I’m now going to have to start taking my tea and coffee in delicate cups instead of massive mugs. (When did I start “taking” tea?)

Now, I’m on the hunt for mismatched bowls. Instead of trying to find a cohesive set of dishes, I’m just going to find ones I like and end up with an eclectic array. We have more plates than we know what to do with and like 2 bowls. So Goodwill and Target, I’m coming for you!

Release notes:

Totally cried about this new Google Chrome commercial called “Jess Time.” Growing up is really painful sometimes, and I love how the Google people manage to capture so much human emotion in their ad spots.  The Love Story one gets me every time. 

On Change, Seasonally

I feel fall coming. I’ve been smelling it on the morning air since early August, but now I’m really feeling it. The morning air is crisp, a reminder of the cold bite that I’ll be complaining about in a few months. For now, it’s refreshing. I roll down the windows and feel the warm sunshine and the cool air and I am content. I drive, watching the rolling ribbons of brown leaves part to let me through, and I know that the time for warm summer nights and sunshine will soon be a thing of past and something to look forward to.

I think of the changes of this summer – the adventures, the love, the friends, work – and I can’t believe it’s gone so fast. Did I take advantage of it as I used to? No. I used to relish summer, staying up all through the night and watching dawn break over the sleeping city. Now I count late hours as borrowed from the next day, and wake to rejoin the rush. Swim attire has been replaced by business casual, the need for adventure replaced by a longing for a comfortable couch.

Growing up is a strange process since it doesn’t happen all at once. It’s the small changes that happen season by season, so subtly that you don’t notice them until you look back to see where you’ve come. Not that I’m grown up, by any means, or that relishing late nights is an activity left only to the young. Just that there are little bits of my maturity that seem to be slowly falling into place. Or perhaps I’m just spreading myself too thin and the lack of time stretching in front of me to be filled with adventure is shrinking as a result of obligations that I never imagined I’d have rather than the reality of adulthood.

I know that it is my responsibility to make sure that I maintain the work-life-me balance. And in that precarious juggling act is time. I need to carve out time for me to do nothing. Perhaps I need to be more strict about that, reminding myself that the busy everything can wait. But the busy everything is so pressing, so nagging, and at times, so incredibly fun. The busy everything doesn’t wait.

I long for hours – I wish I could waste them again, the way we used to. We’d lay around the apartment, we’d take walks, we’d adventure. What’s an afternoon drive to Wisconsin when you’ve got nothing else to do? Now, I have to schedule laundry strictly in order to ensure it will get done.

I wish for evenings. For weekends. For unplanned, unscheduled, unmarked time. And when I have it, I will do nothing. I will not do the things I’ve been meaning to. I will not clean, or cross things off my to-do list. I will draw a bubble bath and grab a novel and sit for hours, until the water is cold and my toes resemble shrunken heads. I will watch endless episodes of everything on Netflix. I will become bored. I will relish that boredom by painting my toes and face-masking. I will spend a long afternoon napping with Carlos curled around my feet. Ah, that would be lovely.

On the Zoo, Over-Heatedly

My mom’s five-year old neighbor is one of the most adorable human beings I’ve ever met. (Last summer, while playing Capture the Flag, she came to let me out of jail – an overturned boat in our shared backyard – and she informed me that “that’s what best friends do.” My heart cracked and overflowed.)

For the last six months or so, she’s been reminding me that I promised her that we’d go to the zoo and have a picnic in City Park and that she’d get to meet Carlos. “I’ve never met a cat before; I’ve never met Carlos,” she tells me.

So on Sunday, my mom, my neighbor, and I piled into the car – she wanted me to sit next to her in the backseat, so I did – and headed to the zoo armed with a picnic lunch. It was too hot, so we didn’t last very long at the zoo. We were able to get about 100 feet into the new elephant exhibit, and we didn’t get to see any penguins.

I’m heartbroken – penguins are my absolute favorite things. Here are penguin pictures from Boulder’s Beach in South Africa:

(Can you tell I’m missing South Africa? Always.)

Anyway, the zoo.

We saw lots of sleeping animals – lions, tigers, kangaroos – it seemed like everyone just wanted to be left alone to sleep in the heat. We rode the zoo train. We had ice cream, and our little friend desperately wanted popcorn, so we had some of that too.

After we left the zoo, we went to my house so she could meet Carlos. I was nervous – Carlos is skittish at best around new people, and he’s never been around a 5-year old.

Carlos loved her. At one point, she kissed him right on the nose. He didn’t flinch. We fed him some wet food (is there a better way to get a cat to sit still?), and she got to scratch his back while he ate.

Then we had a picnic in the park, under the big arches.

We had turkey sandwiches, cucumbers, carrots, leftover popcorn from the zoo, and gummy bears. Then we chased each other around with squirt guns and played frisbee until we were exhausted and ready for sleep.

All in all? A great day. I hope that it was everything she imagined it would be.

On Doing It Yourself, Perilously

(If you click on this picture, you’ll be directed to the site that I got it from, although I originally saw it on Pinterest.)

I’m not really that crafty at all. I’m also not big on DIY stuff, because I find that I usually end up frustrated and covered in glue, or paint, or whatever it is that I’m working with after having spent a ridiculous amount of money on whatever project it is.

That said, this is something that’d be super easy to do and would look awesome. So perhaps I’ll find some time in the near future to get all crafty and do this.

The above sentence was most likely a boldfaced lie.

This is probably one of those silly “Future Me” moments where Future Me is so cute and crafty and put-together and hip. “Present Me” is more like, “Meh. I  have not finished spray-painting my dresser.” Yep. I had a blonde dresser that I was in the process of spray painting black when it started to snow – ah, Colorado – and so I stopped.

So now, a year and a half after the initial spray painting attempt in the snow, I have a half blonde, half black dresser that doesn’t even stress me out. It’s vintageish and awesome and flanked by two even more-awesome bookshelves. (Hah, I was going to put a mirror over the dresser. I went so far as to purchase the mirror. The mirror lives in my closet now, waiting to be put up.)

Maybe I should finish that project – finishing moving in to an apartment I’ve lived in for a year and a half – before I go melting crayons all over canvas.

On Black Bathrooms, Magically

Oh my goodness, I love black. It’s one of my absolute favorite colors. After my parents’ divorce, we spent a lot of time moving around – rentals = white walls – and I promised myself that when I got a house, I would paint every room a color.

This home, done in blacks and whites and other neutrals is beautiful. There are parts I’m “meh” on (like the horns; not a big fan of horns), but check out that black and white striped bathroom and tell me that’s not amazing.

While I’m no closer to owning a home than I was at twelve, I’m definitely excited for the possibilities of painting and decorating; although based on the looks of our apartment now, I’m not going to be the most amazing decorator ever. I’m sure that KatieBarry-chic will be its own blend of clutter and color and homeyness and it will be wonderful. (and!….a bathtub with claw-feet!)

Also, I’m realizing that since all I really own are clothes and books, I’m going to need extensive shelving. Either that, or I’ll have to pare down my possessions. (Pssh, not going to get rid of my books, even the romance novels. They’re the best things for rainy days and cold winters.)

I have some free time this weekend (read this as: I am babysitting too much to really have a life), so I think I will begin the process of digging through my closet and trying to donate/sell/eliminate excess clothing. Anything from college (oh dear, or even high school) must go if it doesn’t fit, looks weird, or hasn’t been worn in ages.

This is such a difficult process for me, because I find myself crippled by the “What ifs” as I go through things. “What if I need this?” “It’d be great for a costume party.” – That’s the weirdest thought possible, I think. Who actually goes to that many costume parties that often? I haven’t been to one in at least a year. “This might fit me someday!” – Again, a terrible thought. If it’s more than two sizes too big, it’s got to go. (Which means that most of my man-pants are out. Bummer.)

Ah, well. I assume that I’ll come back to you on Monday only to report that I’ve stared at the closet, become overwhelmed, and bailed on the plan to organize. But one can always hope for great change, right?

On Hot Cats in the Summer, Vigilantly

It’s been a while since I’ve subjected you to cat pictures, but I didn’t want you to think I’d forgotten how much you all just love to stare at pictures of cats.

black cat

I realized last night that I’ve become the stereotypical female cat owner. Sure, he’s adorable, but I’m way over the top with how much I love him. I ordered him a cat bow-tie off the internet, which he wore for about twenty minutes one day. (In all fairness, the bow-tie was $3, including shipping, and it was twenty minutes of adorable, so I don’t regret it.) I catch myself referring to myself in the third person when I’m talking to him, as in “Mommy doesn’t have any wet food for you.”

I also realized that I don’t care whether or not anyone thinks that is ridiculous. He’s my son. I rescued him and I will love him. Seriously (and so incredibly selfishly), I love that he loves me.

In college, my roommate Emily used to call all cats “chicken nuggets”, so it was only a matter of time before it was shortened to chicken. Last week, Swisher said the word “chicken” and Carlos turned his head, confirming my worst fears that he may think his name is actually “chicken.” But then again, maybe not. It’s not like he responds to anything that isn’t “tsk tsk tsk” or the sound of a can or package of wet food being opened.

Wet food is like crack. He can’t resist; it gets him every time. Now that he knows that we have wet food in the house (it’s hot, and I like knowing that he’s getting a little more hydration and also some good protein), he won’t even run. He’ll bound out the door, but once he realizes that I’m not following, he’ll sashay back in and start the begging.

Swisher accidentally shut the door to my room one night, locking Carlos out and forcing him to sleep in the living room. Mike said that when he got up to go to work, Carlos was scratching at my door. Since then, he won’t sleep in my bed when Swisher is over. (But the minute Swisher leaves, he’s right back on his side of the bed, stretched out territorially, his head cocked back as though he’s wondering when I’m going to come keep him company.)

long black cat

The one drawback to loving a cat in the middle of summer? The shedding! Everywhere! White sheets? Don’t even think about it. (Yes, those are white sheets. The bottom, where Carlos likes to sleep, is no longer white. It’s cat-gray. It’s unpleasant for all of us.) Since all of my friends are allergic (except Jacob), I have to change my sheets or put new sheets down when anyone wants to sleep on our giant bean bag or on the couch or on the futon mattress. I have been doing so much laundry! I started to say, “On the plus side…” but then realized that there really isn’t one.

Until Colorado decides to cool down, I have a very hot, grumpy chicken on my hands, and I am one stressed out cat mother (the thought of heat stroke or dehydration, etc. is terrifying). We have fans everywhere, so hopefully when we’re gone, Carlos just parks himself in front of them and gets some good air. He has fresh water, food, and a dark closet in which he can look for quiet, cool spaces to hang out. But I can still tell he’s miserable. I gave him a cool bath the other day – just barely warm water, and he was dry in less than a half an hour. Maybe more cool baths are in store for us.

Cool baths and wet food are going to get us through the summer.

Side note:  I remember one of the vets at some point telling me that Carlos just looks like a feral cat, based on his facial features. I don’t remember what it is, and can’t verify to be sure that this statement is correct. I was doing some Googling and came across this link, in case any of you are curious about feral cats and the TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release program) that took the tip of his ear.

As I read more and more about these sorts of programs, and especially since I know that he’s FIV+ (Cat AIDS!), the more it sinks in that we are both incredibly lucky. Carlos is lucky to be alive – had he been tested earlier for FIV and found to be positive, there is a high possibility that he could have been euthanized. He ended up at the no-kill shelter that is PAWS Chicago, whether it was through the TNR program or through other means, I’m not sure. After waiting for six months to be adopted (by me!), he’s a sweet, sassy, spoiled house cat who hopefully has a much better life than the one he had before. I could not have asked for a more challenging or entertaining companion.

If you’re looking for a pet, please look at the shelters first. There are some amazing used animals just waiting to find great homes. (I use “used animals” because I think it sounds cute, and not because I think the animals have any less value. Trust me, Carlos would not be the lovable smart-ass he is today without his street experience.)

On the Weekend

Kids Crafts

I love babysitting. Now that I’m out of college and staring down the possibility of motherhood within the next decade or so, I am looking at babysitting as the ultimate in childhood education. It provides such an insight into the world of parenting. I get to see the kids at their shiny, smiling best and at their absolute, angry worst. I get to watch their minds develop and wonder; they blow me kisses and sign “I love you” when I put them to sleep; we giggle together. Children are truly wondrous.

But more than that, I get to watch different sets of parents actively making choices. Each household does things differently, and all they want is the best for their children. I’m terrified that I will somehow raise children that aren’t independent, free-thinking, and respectful. (See this article in the New Yorker for more on that…)

It’s good practice. It’s good exposure. And I honestly think that for all of my years spent babysitting, I’ll be a much better mother.

Kiddie Pool

Denver has been HOT. Too hot. Whenever the summer gets like this, I always think of that episode of Hey, Arnold! where there’s the heat wave. Don’t ask why, I’m not even entirely sure what happens in the episode.

My apartment does not have air conditioning. The cat is angry about this, and is grateful for the fans we have set up in an attempt to circulate some of the air. So on Saturday, we bought a kiddie pool, some squirt guns, sunscreen, and a plastic jar with a spout and a handle! It’s the perfect combination for summer. Swisher has informed me that now that we own a hose together, we’re pretty much committed to each other.

After the stress that was our first fight last week, I had some more serious realizations: On Saturday, he helped me clean out my room at my mom’s house – she’s trying to reclaim our childhood rooms and I’m resisting. But there was no judgement as he picked through random piles of books and clothes and the knick knacks of my youth. I realized that even though there are things that I’m going to have to accept and learn to love about him, he’s having to do the same thing for me. Helping me clean is always going to be a labor of love (Maddie knows all about this), and one that I will be forever grateful for.

I’m going to try to be more patient and realistic in my expectations, but I also told him that I’m not going to let him slide on anything. I think it was good. Cooling off in the pool was even better. I can’t wait to spend the summer hanging out at the pool I’ve inflated in the empty lot next to my apartment building. (Hah.)

Sky clouds plane

The view from the pool.

City park jazz

On Sunday nights, they do free jazz concerts in City Park. Since it’s within walking distance, last night we made a little picnic of lemonade, bread, cheese, meat, and grapes and headed over with some blankets. It was a lovely evening of lounging on the blankets in the cooling air.

City Park Jazz Denver

(Swisher took this!)

Sadly, as the jazz was ending around 8pm, a police officer (and single mother of a 12-year old daughter) was shot and killed. We heard the gunshots, thought they sounded like fireworks, and then heard the sirens. Cop cars and an ambulance were all over the park. We weren’t very close to the shooting, and we didn’t really feel any sense of panic (I mean, it wasn’t the stampede-effect), but the stream of people out of the park was pretty consistent.

I seriously hope that this crime doesn’t deter people from coming out to the park. It’s such a beautiful place, and having free music every Sunday is a really great opportunity to feel like a part of the community. Maybe next week, they will have some sort of donation center up so that patrons can donate to the family of the slain officer.

I’m sad. Sad for the daughter of the officer, sad for the officer herself, and sad for the guy who killed her. Misplaced rage, or sad displays of masculinity, or something else led to a split-second decision that took a life, took a mother, and changed another’s life forever. This guy, who’s only 21, will have to spend the rest of his life reliving those moments. I only hope that prison for him is not so much a place of criminal education, but instead offers a place of hope and personal growth. (It won’t, but then again, our prison system has never really been about reducing recidivism. It’s more of a profit mill than anything else. I like hearing about places that really work for rehabilitation and optimism than those which breed gang violence and racially divided populations while glorifying violence.)

Night fisbee

When we got home, there were a ton of people in our living room. By a ton, I mean ten, but expecting to see one and seeing ten is still overwhelming. After a while, Mike’s friends wanted to take a walk. Which was perfect, because I wanted to play night frisbee.

Night frisbee has been on my brain for days now. It’s harder, I think, to play night frisbee because all you see is the light, flying straight at your head. The color is nice, but it’s easier to miss. I’m still awesome at it, of course.

After everyone left, Mike, Swisher, and I continued playing on the side of the building. It was such a relaxing night, the perfect end to a very hectic week. (Or the perfect beginning to another hectic week?)

In unrelated news, I love my slapwatch. I do not actually use it to keep time, and so I don’t think it’s been accurate for like six months. (Bear in mind that I’ve only owned it for like 6 months.) Also, my childhood self cheers every time I wear it. Good for her.

On what I love most

Oh yeah, cat post! Why? Because I can.

I was reading an article about the ethics of ear tipping (the process by which they mark neutered feral cats before they release them back into the “wild”) and it got me thinking about Carlos. and moths.

Moths. I’m not big on moths. But Carlos is. He’s so quick and agile as he does his predator stuff. I’m not big on killing either, but watching him hunt is fascinating. He’s so focused, so intent. And deadly.

The other night, Mike and I got so wrapped up in trying to chase down a moth for Carlos that he first got scared and then lost interest. So the two of us wasted about ten minutes of our night only to turn around and realize that the cat had walked out of the room and we’d lost the moth. Excellent work, team. I think I’ll leave bug catching to the professional from now on.

 

On Chicago, belatedly

Lately, my life has been one of those hectic, crowded places. Sometimes, I worry that there’s not enough room for me.

Last night, after work, I cancelled plans to meet a friend and took a long bath instead (apparently, it’s possible to literally steam the cover off of a Vogue magazine). Carlos has been very much not in the mood to love me lately, so I’ve decided that we both need a change of scenery and will be relocating back to my apartment this weekend. That was supposed to happen last night, but instead, I laid on the couch and did absolutely nothing. It was wonderful.

Tonight is a lot of rearranging. I haven’t had my car since I left for Chicago; it’s been languishing in Mom’s driveway. I need to get that back, obviously. Kevin is going up to the mountains this weekend, so he’ll need his car and I very much miss driving Simon, who feels so much less like a Mack truck than Kevin’s SUV. I need to get myself ready for the weekend. Sadly, I wish I had exciting plans to report, but instead, I’m babysitting nearly every moment that I’m awake. 3 families. 4 “shifts”. 3 days.

I’m always excited to babysit. I never view it as work, really, but it does tend to take up quite a bit of time. I’m going to put the money toward my New York trip next weekend, which I am absolutely thrilled about.

Anyway, I feel like I never get to properly describe my Chicago visits. I get too busy with everything else and reminiscing about the trip falls by the wayside. Chicago was wonderful. It was a perfect weekend. I saw a lot of people (of course, I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to see, bummer), and had a blast.

I ended up helping with a music video shoot on Sunday, so that was exciting. I got to stand on the rocks in one of my favorite places in Chicago (no, not the Bean, the Peace Garden!) and dance around awkwardly while wearing a wig and some rather scandalous clothing. It helped that the weather was beautiful that day.

Between the shoot and the airport, I stopped at Swisher’s.  There’s nothing like saying hello to a friend’s parents while your makeup looks like you’re going clubbing at 3 in the afternoon. Thank goodness for makeup removal wipes – those things are amazing. Carry them everywhere when you travel. Just have them on you at all times. They’re all-purpose cloths sent from Heaven.

Saturday, I went to Wisconsin with Anne. We went to see the Mars Cheese Castle, which used to be this amazing, kitschy place but is now just a touristy castle – they seriously redid it to be a castle, but they do have $1.50 meat sticks, so you know I was happy. I also got some white cheese with cranberry in it, a 6-pack of Spotted Cow from my favorite Wisconsin brewery, and some chocolate. (I’m attempting to recreate the experience I had with the Fairview cheese from South Africa and can’t do it. The white with the apricots was some of the most amazing cheese I’ve ever tasted. I can’t get close.)

After we were done at the Cheese Castle, we were like, well, we drove all the way out to Wisconsin, we should probably drive some more. So we googled. Anne found http://www.custardlist.com, a website which lists the daily custard flavors around the state. Seeing that some place called Oscar’s had m&m and cookie dough, we were off toward Milwaukee. Yes, it was better than Kopp’s (although Kopp’s makes some darn good custard), and I got two scoops for less than $2.50.

Saturday night, I went to play with Patrick and Maddie, who had a hotel room downtown. (Maddie’s explanation of why they couldn’t stay at his apartment is one of the funnier things I’ve heard lately.) Anne’s apartment has a problem with hot water, so I was relieved to find that the Embassy Suites was fully stocked with towels and all the hot water I could want. (I did want, so badly.) Swisher met us for happy hour and then we went out to a bar nearby. I was exhausted, so we ended up back at the hotel with snacks and wine. It was the perfect night. I was sad because my friend Adrian was having his annual “Fried, Fried, Fried” party – it’s exactly what it sounds like – and I was looking forward to eating all the things. However, I would never make it up to the North side. Instead, I fell asleep on the couch at the hotel.

Being back in Chicago was like suddenly realizing that you lost something. I have lost my memory of the street names (not all of them, but finding myself staring at the Chicago theater on State street and wondering which way to walk was a disconcerting feeling); I have lost the flow of the trains, my balance as they stop. I felt my hand reaching out to clutch the pole in a panic as we slid into one of the stations. Being back was like going home. Swisher took me to the train, took me down Lake Shore Drive. I used to drive that every single day. This time, all I could do was stare around. The park. The lake. The river. The buildings. There’s something wonderful about the way the city looms above you, around you. It sinks into you, a little. You’ll never be able to take that bit of Chicago away.

I remember being in love when I was 19. I remember the way that I threw myself into it; the way that logistics stopped being paramount; that no distance was too far, no amount of separation too much. I want to love the way I loved when I was 19. It was pure. It was admittedly one of the most imperfect relationships you could imagine, but it was so real, and it was all-encompassing, and it was beautiful. When did I lose the ability to throw caution to the wind and jump in?