Maybe just short of 9. As of late, it feels as if my life has been thrown into a strange time vortex; the days pass by incredibly slowly - I am aware of every second that ticks by, each one marking another moment in time when I'm still feeling lost and unfocused - yet the weeks, as a whole, keep flying.
It is almost mid-August. (what the Hell?) I suppose that doesn't mean 'anything', in the grand scheme of things. I have personal deadlines, but they're all adjustable. I keep forgetting that the beginning of September no longer holds any major sway over my life - no more school, no more relocating, and no more homework. I think that's the strangest thing to get used to: When I have downtime, it is actually real downtime. Of course, I keep trying to fill it with runs on the beach, fruitless job searches and the occasional train-ride-to-nowhere ... but at the end of the day, the wasted time adds up to just that: time I wasted, or, I guess what most people would call "leisure time."
I don't like leisure time. It makes me anxious.
But at any rate, I'm back in Chicago again! Days after my return to Wisconsin, I got the chance to go back to the city for an interview with Old Navy. I'm sure you've heard of it. Long story short: I'm now a member of the Old Navy Logistics Team; I take in new inventory, restock shelves, and basically run around making things look nice, all before any normal person would even THINK about being out of bed! Isn't that great?
Well, it's something. It will feed me. It will ... 'keep me busy.' This morning was my first shift post-orientation. My alarm went off at 4:10, and during a surprisingly easy 20 minute time frame I got dressed, had some yogurt, managed a few sets of push-ups, stocked my backpack with books to read, my iPod, and a handful of Clif Bars and, by 4:50, I was standing on the Red Line platform at Thorndale Avenue, watching the city skyline slumber beneath the deepest shade of royal blue I've ever seen. The train ride into the city was fast; the trains move much more quickly when there's no one at the stations to clamor aboard at every stop. When I emerged from the Lake Street Red Line stop and came up onto State Street, just a block away from Macy's and a stone's throw from Millenium Park, the sky had lightened just a bit.
Actually, let me rephrase that: the sky was positively glowing.
The horizon line reflected an unseen rising sun somewhere west of Lake Michigan; the blue was absolutely electric and the tall skyscrapers with their shorter, stone and mortar counterparts still laid dormant, black and brown beneath a rapidly brightening canopy of indigos and royal blues. In those few short minutes walking past the doors of Macy's and the silhouette of the Festival Stage in Millennium Park, I had the whole of Chicago's heart within my grasp, and it was beating solely for me. It's 11am now; the sun is shining, there are people everywhere, and the sounds of taxis honking, sirens blaring, and trains flying by on the elevated tracks over Wabash Avenue are incessant. It's a rapid pulse of surging energy from every direction. But for a few brief moments, only hours ago, the streets were empty and these few city blocks belonged to me.
So, this early morning stocking position has got that going for it, at least.
Each time I passed the windows with my rolling rack of fashion-savvy polos and T's, the streets had brightened just a bit, the taxis became more frequent and, at last (!) the sun was up and so were the city's nine-to-fivers and the myriad street people who frequent the corners with bibles to give away, cups to fill with cash, and sad stories to share with anyone willing to spare a few minutes (and, of course, a quarter or two). It's a strange city, Chicago; at times I feel very happy here - I feel busy and elated, full of possibility. At others, I look around at the strangers on the train and think to myself "I am alone here and I'm not quite sure I know what I'm doing." I miss my family and my friends, I miss the certainty of September and the comfort of the many places I've called 'home' over the last few years. I know I'm on my way to building a new home in the city, but taking stock of what I need to build that home is a daunting task.
That being said, the past week has been filled with emotional ups and downs - some caused by the angst of the ongoing search for employment, others by the heart pangs of longing for a hand to hold while I wade through all this lonely muck we all get stuck in day after day. But when I sit down, like I am right now, and watch the world go by, it all seems a bit easier. I am so full of love for many things and people that my heart sometimes feel like it could burst from my chest. The quiet moments on the streets in the early morning, running out on the beach and watching the waves crash against the sand, or simply being with old friends (Amy and Dylan, I simply couldn't be doing this without you. I don't know how I'll ever repay you for your kindness, for the shelter of your hearts and home): these moments remind me that all is not lost and that, actually, everything's pretty damn peachy when I remember to sit back and take a look at things through the right perspective.
So I'll go back to watching the world drive, walk, fly - go - by my shady perch at the corner of Wabash and Washington. I've got the whole day ahead of me.