Jul 31, 2009

village idiot

So everything is ok, again. I guess.

I did admit to this woman that I barely know (at her card shop today) that I'm now almost constantly nauseous due to moving here. But that was only after she came right out and said how constantly horrified she had been since she moved here.

It turns out she, too, lived in the Wicker Park neighborhood for many years before moving to this particular suburb.

I thought today that, yes, I'm conflicted and, no, I didn't choose to be here, but better to start actively enjoying the architectural history and nice people of this town - because I'm going to be here for a while.

And, because, even if it all does go on within the private confines of my mind, I can't continue being this much of an asshole.

So, I decided to embrace the whole thing.

It's a brand new positive attitude that I made up in my head to overwrite the guilt I had for absolutely hating moving here - when, quite simply, I should be grateful I have such a nice place to live. That is, any place to live.

Did I mention that I lived here a long time ago?

I did. But I've forgotten almost everything.

Like, Euclid. It's a street. But, as recently as this morning, I couldn't tell you where Euclid was.

Sometimes my boyfriend will ask me where "such and such" is located, and I realize that I could walk him anywhere to anything - I've just forgotten the names of all of the streets.

What bothered me most was not being able to locate my dad's office building.

I knew I was in the general vicinity, but, whole new structures had been built to blend timelessly with what were the original structures. So, while everything looked right, it felt askew.

And I had no proof as to how it once was.

I kept asking myself why I hadn't taken more pictures while I lived here - why no one had.

I felt certain, however, that I was close to my dad's office. Very close. That it was probably that building right there.

But there was no way of knowing.

When I later asked my mom the exact address of my dad's office she laughed like I was being silly.

The truth is, I never knew the exact address of my dad's office. I guess I simply felt my way there by instinct in the past. I've always sensed that it was probably on Marion Street. Maybe Westgate. But nothing more specific than that.

Today, though, with the exact address in my hand, I was able to locate my dad's office.

I see now why it was so difficult to find.

Because my dad's office is just a glass door with a street number on it.

And, if you bother to notice, it's a gray staircase.

But, that's not how I remember it. What I remember is the office itself.

Up on the second level, the office was three or four state-of-the-art rooms of work space designed and built by my dad.

With three or four people who worked and laughed there all day.

And sometimes I'd get dropped off there and get to play with architectural tools at one of the big drawing boards all day.

I remember getting to keep the change after picking up take-out cups of coffee from the restaurant down around the corner. The same restaurant where we often picked up lunch.

I usually ordered either the tuna or the cheese sandwich with chips, a pickle and a coke (which, like the coffee, came in me-generation orange and yellow swooshed take-out cups).

Upon returning to the office, one was always confronted by the chemical scent, that, although you had forgotten about it - or had adjusted to it, had always been there (as it came continuously from the rendering pens, no matter how tightly capped).

And, there was the ubiquitous rubber chicken, that, for some reason, featured prominently in what seemed like every joke made between my dad and his associates, in those days.


None of that would have been evident from street level.

Not even back then.

So, I don't know what exactly I thought the exterior of that building would indicate about my dad's one time presence in that building, today.

Maybe a shadow or a smudge. Maybe an outline left from his logo - or his ego.

Of course, there was nothing to that effect.

And certainly nothing that plainly stated:

John The Architect Of 1972 Once Had An Office Here

I stood there for a second, anyway.

Taking it in. The glass door. The street number. The stairs.

But only for a second. I began to feel weird just for standing there.

There was, nearby, a mom sitting on the bench tending to her baby in a stroller, who simply stared at me.

And then, a woman with many bags bouldered out of the T-shirt store and almost tripped over me.

Because, of course, she hadn't expected me, as no one ever stands anywhere.

And then, a man and his small daughter, both wearing helmets, walked by with their bikes looking 100% mentally healthy.

And there I was.

Possibly lost. Dressed in an outfit that I now wear everyday, because I can't find any of my other clothes.

A getup that would be fine save for the addition (and incredible contrast) of what are definitely the biggest, whitest gym shoes ever (long story).

That's me.

The village idiot. Looking 100% the part.