from Under the Birch Tree

Some here say to just wait a few minutes and the weather could change in an instant. There’s nothing quite like the seasons in Chicago. Some inhabitants surrender to the intolerance, moving elsewhere, shaking their heads. Not me, though. The seasons in Chicago are like yin and yang, or the Cubs and Sox, the Bears and Packers, the Mayor and city unions. I struggled to find poise in the imbalances in my life which kept me distracted from acknowledging how I was really feeling.
In winter, forceful winds demand attention, grey skies clash with blue-grey water, a tiring violence. But in summer, sapphire skies compliment the pale green lake with its waves creating a rhythm that blends with the pulsing of my heart, an energizing calm. As I head north on Lake Shore, I name each exit. Oak Street, Division, North Avenue, Fullerton, Belmont. Addison, Waveland. In my early 20’s, I used to catch the bus at Addison and the inner drive in the morning to head to work. During summer weekends, I’d stroll through the park at Waveland with a radio cradled in a beach towel packed in my straw beach bag. I’d sunbathe on the large flat boulders stacked along the lakeshore while juggling the sounds of waves with an announcer’s pitch on the radio calling the Cubs game.
My memories of rolling along with each season’s turn, delivered a smile though gilded with sadness – the sadness was in being alone. I felt this was my place once. But was this my home? Some say your home is where your family and friends are or where you lived, where you were born, where you grew up. That would be on Carlisle Street. But what happens after that, when you have to leave your home, leave Carlisle Street?

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