#917: Along the Water

April 20th, 2018

I shuffled along, hands in pockets of a dark three-quarter length coat and hat pulled Andy Cappishly over my eyes. My pace was in between, slowly catching up to the white white-haired couple holding hands as they sauntered along but getting lapped by two Latino high school students in their charter sweatshirts jogging and gossiping about some guy who “makes me feel, like, a certain way, I don’t know” before bursting into nervous, happy laughter.

Business at the Field Museum and a home far to the north had put me on this path along Monroe Harbor. The sun had lured a few of us out, although the cold kept most a few blocks inland.

Joggers skittered along the harbor, dipped in wicking fabric to venture outdoors boldly and skintight, like Kent forgot the cape. Students laughed and lingered, gossiping in person or phone. Some gestured with sneaked cigarettes in hand, all tried to stretch out the day’s hour of freedom before parents would have a valid case in the inevitable “And where exactly have you been?” argument.

Cars rushed along Columbus Drive. Drinking fountains spurted into the air, running the lines to flush out lead in the water. Out in the harbor, a flotilla of small sailboats honked and honked and honked with increasing franticness as the sailing students failed to grasp passing on two whistles.

Memories, of course. Who hasn’t gone on a walk along the lake in young and broke days with someone willingly conned into conflating “free” and “romantic”? Who hasn’t stared out at the water at one point or another, thinking their melancholy was somehow special, smart or high-quality in any capacity? Thinking deep thoughts while gazing out over wind-licked waters is one of the most common, trite things people do.

Who hasn’t snuck smokes and shared with a close classmate about someone making you feel a certain way? And who doesn’t want to become an old couple with matching white hair, sauntering along the water’s edge, hand in hand?

I shuffled along, cap in eyes, my pace somewhere in between.

A suicide from the same spot

The same spot, in ’21 and ’12

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You are currently reading #917: Along the Water by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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