I have sweat dripping down in the hollow of my lower back. I am in Chicago staying with my daughter in her cute studio apartment that does not have air-conditioning and I am trying to get used to being damp. I don’t like it, it makes me lazy, sticky, grumpy and in a bit of a muddle. But being with my daughter is making up for the discomfort. She is a delight and we are spending a lot of time gabbing in cafes, drinking great coffee, playing cards, getting a pedicure, laying on the beach, sleeping (or trying to sleep in my sweaty case), eating great food, going to a movie, and playing with her foster cats.
We walked a couple of miles to the beach on Lake Michigan from her apartment, longing for some relief from the humid high temperatures. We arrived hot, surveying the crowded beach, bummed about the blaring music and incessant bass pounding across the sand from some loudspeakers in the distance, slathered on sunscreen and flopped down on our blanket with a sigh. Not five minutes later we heard whistles and shouts and people moving in droves toward the parking lots. The lifeguards were shooing everyone out of the water and off of the beach, requiring us to leave because the weather was threatening a thunderstorm. Audrey and I just had to burst out laughing, because we had just got there! Dejected we folded up our blanket and headed back toward town and the sanctuary of a cafe, coffee and a deck of cards.
I’ve been to Chicago many times but this time it felt dirty. We used the trains and buses as parking in her neighborhood of Boystown was a feat of praying to Hector the Parking God, and milling around for a half an hour haunting every person that looked like he might be heading toward a parked vehicle, and just plain unbelievable luck. Once found I didn’t want to give up my space unless absolutely necessary. So we walked and walked and I noticed more trash and icky smells than I remember but we greeted many cute dogs on the sidewalks.
We went to our favorite restaurant in the city, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. where there is always a wait. We showed our face to the host with the photographic memory and 45 minutes later had a nice wooden booth. The pizza is served individually in shallow bowls and tipped over tableside in a steaming array of cheese and sausage. Oh yum, it was as good as I remembered, and the salads a heaping array of veges. Quite wonderful. The atmosphere is always festive, full of engaging camaraderie from the long wait among strangers for a table.
The next day we had to say good-bye to her foster cats as it was time to return them to the shelter so they could be adopted and adored permanently by someone. It was sad to see them go as they were darling companions. We drowned our sorrows that night at a movie theater seeing Moonrise Kingdom, very cute!
Our final day together we drove to Indiana Dunes State Park to try another beach. It was a beautiful expanse of sand that looked like it went for miles. I paid ten bucks to park and we walked to the sparser section of the beach to avoid the crowds only to find that you are not allowed to swim in the water (the weather was continuing to hover near 100) unless you were in a certain section in front of the lifeguard station! All this beach and all this water and they mandate being squished together like sardines, well, unless you could stand not getting in the water. Besides that, no floatation devices were allowed, so little kids could not have floating toys, and they closed the swimming altogether at 6pm! What’s with all the beach regulations? Sheesh, I was appalled, Indiana, where’s your sense of fun or at least your “swim at your own risk” mentality?
Saying good-bye and driving away from Chicago I embraced my emotions as they ran the gamut from high to low, within a very small range of time. Leaving Audrey was a low. My daughters are the most important things in my life. I am completely devoted, besotted even, as their mother. I want nothing but the best for them, to see them fulfilled and happy, and have their approval and be adored in return. But there are times that I fail miserably in being present, longing for more time to prove my devotion. I know they don’t doubt my love, but I still can feel insecure in case I die tomorrow and they somehow miss the message of acceptance I have telegraphed through the maze of motherly concern. So I was sad to leave Chicago and there was a sinking feeling as I headed away. And rather than fight the stream of sadness I let it have it’s way with me, crying down the freeway. Mine is not to question why, just feel. And this seems to work really well, because I get it out and stay present with where the next emotions go. This time they came raging up singing with Pink to my daughter from afar…
Made a wrong turn
once or twice.
Dug my way out,
blood and fire.
Welcome to my silly life.
Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood!
Miss “No way, it’s all good”, it didn’t slow me down
Mistaken, always second guessing, underestimated!
Look, I’m still around…
Pretty pretty please!
Don’t you ever ever feel
Like you’re less than, fucking perfect
Pretty pretty please
If you ever ever feel like you’re nothing you’re fucking perfect to me.