It is 70-something and breezy. The kind of day all of Chicago has been waiting for. The kind that should have me grinning ear to ear. But it doesn’t.
I am walking and I figure if I am out here long enough, I will end up somewhere I’ve never been before – which is the point of the Artist Date, Number 71. New input.
I point my feet towards Andersonville – an old Swedish neighborhood on the north side that became popular some 15-plus years ago, yet somehow still retains a whisper of its original feeling.
I have the overwhelming urge to call someone to meet me for ice cream. Because, it is an ice cream kind of day.
I consider my date from last Saturday. Or the man I ran into Friday night. The one who told me he had been feeling lonely.
I seem hell-bent on getting away from myself. I’m not sure why. I try to observe this but not over think it.
I walk into Pars – the Persian store I have passed so many times – instead.
There are hookahs and flavored tobacco. Stacks of soap made from laurel. Rows and rows of loose tea in jars.
Packages of frankincense and sumac. Pots for making Turkish coffee. Halavah. Mildly gritty. Somewhat sweet. Made from ground sesame seeds, it is an acquired taste. I’m pretty sure only Jews and Arabs eat it.
The store is sort of sad and sparse. I leave after 20 minutes of so, no more filled than when I arrived.
I land at Roost. Overpriced, salvaged items line the sidewalk out front. The kind one gets for a song at estate sales in the country, out-of-the way places where those left behind have little to no idea of the value of what they hold.
Inside are candles with man-ish names and smells like “tobacco and oak.” There are mugs with the Lipton Cup-a-Soup logo on them. Cardboard produce boxes that read, “Glass Grown Brand Greenhouse Tomatoes” and “Michigan Zucchini.”
A vintage typewriter.
Two older men giggle. “Where is the screen?”
I tell them I learned to write on an IBM Selectric in journalism school. One recalls saving his birthday money to buy his first typewriter – because his handwriting was so terrible. The other received his as a high-school graduation gift.
We press the keys. They are clunky and heavy. I show them my tattoos, “write” and “left,” in typewriter font. The “f” and “i” raised for effect.
I feel a smile curl on my lips and realize I no longer have a desire to call a boy and get ice cream. At least right now. Even though it is still an ice cream kind of day.
Walking towards home, I cut down Balmoral – a street I never walk down. I am summoned by Greensky.
I hear the shopkeeper mention to customers that most everything is sourced from “Up North” – a term only Michiganders understand – referring to the northwest part of the Lower Peninsula.
I spent my childhood summers Up North. It is a magical place. When I returned to it some 30 years later, I found it was just as I had remembered.
I finger through the Positively Green cards and buy two to send to myself. One is yellow with sunflowers. It reads “Some people are so much sunshine to the square inch. – Walt Whitman.” The other, “As no love is the same, no loss is. – Alla Renee Bozarth.”
I think about the man who walked out of my life without a word exactly one month ago. My friends pointed out all the red flags, but I still don’t really see them. All I know is he touched my heart deeply. And that I am still sad.
I think about what I will write. What I tell myself. What I will tell the child that resides inside of me, the one who once said out loud, “I thought he loved us.”
I respond to her with compassion I can never muster for myself.
“He did love us. As best as he knew how.”
She is filter-less, honest and wise. A little bit younger than I those summers Up North.
I will tell her I am sorry she is hurting. That time takes time. That I love her. Then I will address it, stamp it, and pop it in the mailbox.
I know I will feel differently one day. I just don’t yet. Like I know that today is still an ice cream kind of day.
And later I will have some. Brown butter and salted peanut. I will eat it with a boy, my friend. And together we will share our lonely.