Saturday, August 20, 2005

morning that lasts all afternoon

James is off in Philadelphia. I'm home alone this weekend, wondering what to do with myself.

This morning started out slowly, groggily. Still too sleepy from late night sipping of Southern Comfort...which really wasn't a comfort. I got up in time to get ready for my doctor's appointment. Showered...and then decided to wear my Harry Potter "Seeker" T-shirt.
Maroon colored with the word SEEKER on the front in gold letters. New blue jeans and walking shoes.

I got to the doctor's office and that was when my day got brighter.
There are a few people in this world who always make me smile...among others, The Smiling Girl, YOU, my children...and my doctor.

The doctor's visit started out good, when the nurse asked me my age.
"Fifty two" I said, and her eyes got big.
"Gee, you look much younger than that", she said.
OK...I think I'll keep this nurse!

I like my doctor so much. When she sees me, it is always with the biggest smile. She always tells me that it's so good to see me. I talk to her on a good level. It is friendly, never condescending, like it is with some doctors. On my first day at my new doctor's office in Chicagoland...the first time I saw her...I was her first also. Her first patient at that office. And she was the first female who touched me "there" in a few years. She always remembers that I was her first patient.

So, my checkup was good. Everything checked out fine. That was a relief. My doc put a big smile on my face, as usual. And, as usual, she kept asking me if I had any more questions. And as always, I never say what is on the tip of my tongue: "Would you like to go out for coffee sometime?" As she put her hand on my shoulder and told me again it was good to see me, I said to myself. "umm, no, I better not ask."

I left the office stepping into a cool morning. The breeze was blowing and I was feeling good about the day. That was when I decided to drive to the Lake Shore. So I stopped and filled up the tank, got a cup of coffee, and smoked half of a cigar, pretending I was getting high. (Shhh...don't tell my doctor. she knows I don't smoke and I don't drink much). I felt good, smiling to myself, and at the pan handler at the stop light.

While driving up I-55, I reflected on the morning. I felt that this was one of those days, when you just know the Creator is ordering your footsteps. Well, that may or may not be true. But it was a good thought. I drove with the windows down, letting the morning air wash over me. I reached Lake Shore Drive and turned south. I drove, looking for The Point.

I turned the car around and began to drive north on Lake Shore, past the city. The beaches were all crowded with thousands of people waiting to see the Air Show. And my good mood began to change. I thought of those thousands, out for a nice afternoon. People out with real families, with real friends. and I thought of me, in the midst of these millions in this city. And I really am lost in Chicago.

Driving on, I shook myself out of that reverie. Still looking at the friends and families on the Lake Shore, regretting the change in my fine mood. My thoughts now running a mile a minute.

So, I continued driving and I decided to just drive north along Sheridan Road, on the Circle Tour.

My mood began to change for the better as I drove. Driving through Rogers Park reminded me of Mt. Lebanon, PA near Pittsburgh and of Pittsburgh's Oakland section. I started to have a familiar nostalgic feeling. I drove past all the big houses in Evanston and Wilmette. I like the drive. But I felt like I'm in alien territory. The million dollar houses. I wonder of the people here. Then I crossed the city limits into Winnetka and instantly the homes are double in size. The million dollar homes are now five million dollar mansions. The only non-Caucasian people I see, are the Mexican gardeners. Earlier I had crossed Kenilworth Ave. Now I thought and found ironic. Perhaps these Mexican gardeners traveled 30 miles from their end of Kenilworth, in Berwyn, here to the wealthy end of the same street, to work for the rich people.

Through the open windows of the car, I smell the trees. It is the same summer smell I knew as a boy back in Ohio. I hear the song of the locusts and cicadas in the trees. I know that sound. It's not from wealthy bugs in the wealthy part of town. They are the same as my bugs. The trees...they are the same. The grass.. just as green. The summer smell just as fragrant. The same in wealthy Winnetka as it is on the South Side of it is in Palos Hills, as it was in Ohio.

I started to think of the places I have been...the people I've met. I think of the trees and grass in the parks and by-ways I have slept in, when I was in the religious cult. And I remember people. Somehow a memory of one and another young man and young woman...behind a super grocery store, in some state somewhere. Memory is dim. I do remember the grandmother. Maybe in her late fifties or her sixties. She was behind the grocery also, with her granddaughter. She had a German accent. She was also looking for food. Searching for the whole foods, fruits, vegetables, dented canned goods, that so many grocery chains dump daily. Food that is past the expiration date, but good enough for today's meal. And I felt like I was intruding. I was a traveler...and this was a regular stop for her. I jumped into the dumpster and retrieved the good items...all the good fruits and vegetables. And I gave them to her. I don't think she could believe it. The look on her face. I think she was prepared to let this strange young man go first, then she and her granddaughter would see what was left. She cried. But there was enough food for everybody.

My thoughts came back to the present. Continuing my drive, I began to see signs for garage sales. Well, what on earth does one find at a rich-people garage sale? I was surprised to find that they are the same. The rich folks with BMW's in their drive way, and a yard sale going on beside their million dollar home; pretty much sells the same stuff for the same price that normal lower-middle class people sell at their garage sales. So, for a dollar, I picked up a copy of the Penguin Classic "EURIPIDES: MEDEA and Other Plays"

I drove and drove. Through all the wealthy north shore towns, determined to just drive all day. Yet, all of these thoughts were milling around in my head. So I had to stop and purchase a notebook and ink pen. I had to write. I checked my email from my cell phone. There was no word from you. Maybe later.

Driving further north, I ended up in Waukegan. I've never been here before. My young friend Sarah told me that it is like Aliquippa, PA. And it is.

The scenery changed. From million dollar mansions to a lower-middle class city. From manicured lawns and front yard sculptures to signs advertising pay-day loans, car title loans, car lots with approval for everybody, even those with bad credit. Such a change in scenery. From towns where the only way the blacks and Mexicans are there, are as a gardener or some other menial laborer, to the town that these people call home.

Today I felt a spectrum of feelings from tired, to extremely happy, to bitter and sad, to satisfied. And all through the day, you have entered my thoughts. I thought of you, on this day of rest, hoping you are indeed taking advantage of the day.

It's getting late. I'm going to drive home now. Maybe I'll rent Love Actually tonight...or maybe I'll just drive some more.

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