on nostalgia

I’ve moved 1, 744 miles in the course of 8 years. Yet I inevitably infinitely indefinitely circle back to my essential self. Driven by an insatiable lust for nostalgia that flies in the face of economy.

As I was driving out of Omaha chasing a July sunset toward Colorado, a sliver of orange still visible at 9:30pm, the air shifted and I felt as if this was it. Life was going to be different. I was a different person.

This was Not like those rainy Chicago days when I still didn’t know how to work for a full day’s wages and spent pointless mornings in coffeeshops that sat in hip neighborhoods 45 minutes from my apartment. My ignorance spread out, an all-encompassing web of tenuous silk that I was desperate to escape yet desperate to preserve.

As I was driving out of Omaha chasing a July sunset toward Colorado, a sliver of orange still visible at 9:30pm, the air shifted and I felt as if this was it. Life was going to be different. I was a different person.

Yet I find myself, 8 years later, sitting again in a coffeeshop trying to concentrate on the sentence at hand. Typing. Deleting. Typing. Deleting again. My sweaters are no longer awkward, and I cut through the room in black and leather, but the room could belong anywhere. I blink and wonder, where am I? How did I get here? Almost automatically, my fingers searched for “coffee near me” on my phone and gripped the steering wheel left-left-left—-Speer to Broadway to Lincoln.

The desire to return had hijacked my sensibilities. And not for the first time. When a cloud hovers for just long enough in the big western sky or I catch a whiff of diesel or I drive deep into Denver’s modest downtown at night, I ache to return to Wicker Park, Lakeview…hell, I’d even take Lincoln Park. But I don’t truly ache for the Chicago I knew for so long, a tantalizing treat out of reach of my cashpoor hands. I ache for the feeling of Chicago.

That feeling enveloping me, that deceptive comfort of an appropriately quirky coffeeshop…Which melted me with its stark contrast to the bodily chill in the face of winter wind blowing off the lake and the ache in my thighs after walking for miles…An ache much more gentle than the painful electric jolt in my heart every time I had a date with my now-husband…A heart-stopping jolt, but still not as painful as the 20ton CTA bus hitting a pothole on Irving Park, westbound, on the way to his apartment. I had to grab my backpack to keep it from sliding to the bubblegumcoated floor and to distract my hands from shaking. Shaking because my heart had stopped from excitement at seeing him again. Shaking because here was someone who seemed to really get me. Shaking because I knew that I was going to be a Different Person.

As I was driving out of Omaha chasing a July sunset toward Colorado, a sliver of orange still visible at 9:30pm, the air shifted and I felt as if this was it. Life was going to be different. I was a different person.

My difference lies in two small silver hair sprouting from my scalp and an acknowledgement that I need to satiate the snake.

 

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