Archives for posts with tag: Goodbye

Have you ever had an important moment occur in your life when you realized that a Muppet movie is perfectly applicable to your situation?

Two weeks ago I spent a wonderful night at a farewell dinner with my friends. We stayed until well after the restaurant was closed and someone even teased our waiter that we were going to follow him home when he discovered us still standing on the street corner, talking and laughing, as he left work. I just didn’t want to go home because I didn’t want to say goodbye. When I finally did I was comforted by the fact that those particular people are the kind of friends that . . . “somehow I know, we’ll meet again, not sure quite where and I don’t know just when.” For those of you who haven’t seen The Muppets Take Manhattan (it is quite delightful), those are the lyrics to one of the songs in the movie, Saying Goodbye. The day after the farewell dinner (just one among many goodbyes) I found myself unconsciously singing that song as I packed and then taped up boxes. I found this clip on Youtube and cried through the whole thing.

I love The Muppets, they always make me smile and in this particular scene they express my feelings perfectly. Chicago friends, this one’s for you. (I promise this is my last goodbye post.)

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye, going away
Seems like goodbye’s such a hard thing to say
Touching a hand, wondering why
It’s time for saying goodbye
Saying goodbye, why is it sad?
Makes us remember the good times we’ve had
Much more to say, foolish to try
It’s time for saying goodbye
Dont want to leave, but we both know
Sometimes it’s better to go
Somehow I know we’ll meet again
Not sure quite where, and I dont know just when
You’re in my heart, so until then
Wanna smile, wanna cry
Saying goodbye
La la la la la la la la
It’s time for saying goodbye

*I wrote this a couple of weeks ago when I was still in Chicago and I will post it in the present tense as if I am still there because that is where my heart is.

Chicago, City on the Make

Once you’ve become a part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies, but never a lovely so real.

-Nelson Algren

Perhaps I particularly like that imagery because I broke my already crooked nose the first week we lived in Chicago but, more than that, I was amazed that someone could so eloquently put into words the exact way I feel about Chicago. I shouldn’t be surprised though because that’s what a good writer does, they translate feelings into words.

One of the things I love the most about Chicago (and this is probably true of all densely populated cities) is that living there is a challenge, a dare to be brave enough to overcome anything and everything; the snow and bitter cold, the parking, the mail, the grocery shopping, the taxes, the transportation and the existing in such close proximity to and dealing with so many different people. It is hard to live here and you have to work for everything you get. You become one of the unwashed masses whether you want to or not. At least the people in my Chicago do.

Why do Chicagoans embrace a life that is oftentimes hard? Because it pushes us, refines us, makes us pull more from ourselves than we ever knew we were capable of. This city is exactly that metaphorical woman with the broken nose; a woman like that has seen and done things and she expects more from you than excuses and complaints. She expects you to get out of bed willing to bravely face whatever she is ready to throw at you. Some days she will be sweet and mild like the warm summer days when the breeze flows into the city from the lake, but more often she will be dark and moody slamming you with gale force winds, rain and snow. If you stick with her, you will discover she has changed you. You will be braver, more determined and patient, more willing to overlook things that don’t matter, more willing to work, try and give. Chicago makes you strong, if you let it, and when you are finally transformed, every day with that crooked-nosed woman will be a gift, a chance to do and be more.

Last summer we watched an apartment building in our alley burn. Nobody was hurt but the fury was frightening. I saw that same fury in the snow and wind of February 2011. My husband works in a warehouse in the old stockyards. He drives through the gate where countless animals were driven to their deaths to sit at his computer and be haunted by their ghosts (or so I like to tease him). There is a fury in this city. But, for all of the ugliness, there is an unquenchable beauty. The architecture of even the most decayed buildings is undeniably magnificent, especially when adorned with flower boxes overflowing in the summer. Lake Shore Drive winds you between God’s creation to the East, the startlingly green water of Lake Michigan is truly breathtaking, and some of man’s finest work to the West where the skyline rises to mingle with the majesty of the barely visible stars at night.

I love Chicago because it has made me who I am. Not from birth, but because it’s environment and people have changed me. Chicago is now part of me. I will be back, definitely to visit and possibly to live someday, but I know it won’t ever be the same again. As I ride through the different neighborhoods I realize that each person’s experience of Chicago is as unique as the streets, shops, restaurants, and neighbors they are surrounded by. I cannot come back because just like this city, I am always changing and so is everyone around me. Letting go of a good part of life is hard but moving on doesn’t detract from the beauty of a life left behind. It is a gift because you cannot truly remember a place until you are removed from it and can carry those memories with you.

Goodbye to the one drawer in our entire kitchen, the drain monsters that grow to be the size of dinosaurs, the five keys on my keyring required to get into my apartment, and the creepy raccoon bandits hanging out in the alley wearing their masks and planning the abduction of my garbage. Goodbye to the Eastern European cashiers at Devon Market with that stare in their icy blue eyes that never changes, it’s always hard, always hinting at the despair of a Dostoyevsky novel and if you happen to see their elusive smile (sometimes The Boy can make it appear), that hardness is still there because they know that even with the joys of life, trouble is waiting around the corner. Goodbye to Carlos, my favorite alley person, who never wears a shirt when the temperature is above 70 degrees but saved the day (fully clothed, no less) when my apartment flooded in the dead of winter. Goodbye to the predictable CTA workers who regularly accused me of not scanning my pass when I pushed The Boy’s stroller through the gate because they weren’t paying attention and doing their job (for the record, I always scanned my pass and I was always polite when they accused me of doing otherwise.) Goodbye to the CTA bus drivers who stopped to pick me, The Boy and our groceries up even when we weren’t at the bus stop simply because they are nice. Goodbye to the ubiquitous bicyclists, all shapes and sizes (my favorite was the overweight man on a too small bicycle wearing a suit and a fez) hauling miraculously sized things to unknown places. Goodbye to the outrageously high gas prices that make the complaints of people living anywhere else in the country laughable (my best friend mentioned that her gas prices were almost “$4 a gallon!” and I told her I honestly didn’t remember when ours were under $4 and now they’re quite close to $5). Goodbye to the Indian Markets on Devon who kept us stocked with naan, spices, and other delicacies (but not Indian desserts, see The Man Who Ate Everything for an explanation). Goodbye to my beloved polar bear at the Lincoln Park zoo, I will forever treasure the magical mornings The Boy and I spent getting high fives from her through the glass window.

Goodbye to the amazing Chicago Public Library system, the museums, The Bean, the skyscrapers, the parks and playgrounds, the aquarium, and all of the wonderful places we frequented. Goodbye to my beloved train. Goodbye to the squirrels, trees, leaves, puddles, rocks and sticks the Boy marveled over and the dogs chased or peed on. Goodbye to Edgewater, my neighborhood (and my favorite neighbors: Debbie, Gayle, The Brunsons & The Rowberrys).

Goodbye to my friends (you know who you are), you have inspired and changed me. You are the hardest thing to leave behind.

Due to our unusual circumstances (which I won’t go into here) I will spend the next 6 months without a home. So, I will still be a Chicagoan floating in the ether of the United States, bouncing from place to place trying to find a lovelier lovely with my Illinois license plate, my expired city sticker no longer necessary to protect me from tickets, my generously dented bumper – the telltale sign of city living – and the frightening long ‘a’ sound I’ve found creeping into my words with greater frequency lately (perhaps I am leaving not a moment too soon).

Although I am horribly sad to leave, my love for Chicago makes me excited for the future because who knows where else I will go and what other places I will fall in love with. I certainly never hoped and planned to live here, but here I am saying goodbye to my lovely so real.

(I apologize for my long absence but I’ve been packing up and moving. Expect a post about Mikey’s unexpected adventures in Mexico soon. You will not be disappointed.)