Last week, I was at a loss for words. Try as I might to blog, nothing came. Nothing could. I was preoccupied with an unfolding miracle–one that continues to reveal its happy countenance, its joyous contours. Just where does one begin to describe the feeling of finding long-lost family?
In the late 1980s, I joined a group of people who came together to survive. A large, proud group of gay and lesbian adolescents who met every Saturday in Greenwich Village, New York, and talked things out. Beginning in 1969 and continuing for more than thirty years, Gay and Lesbian Youth of New York established a place in LGBT history.
Spiritual awakenings take by surprise reluctant souls and lead them on unexpected journeys. A truism so simple, no elative adjectives needed. For reluctant souls, any spiritual journey at all is, by definition, an extraordinarily, very, very unexpected one. God knows, I was surprised.
You really can’t go home again. Not that I was jonesing to, with all the recent fuss I’ve made about preferring these Lake Michigan shores to Gotham’s piece of the Atlantic seaboard, where I’m from. But a few days spent in New York this month showed me how much more at ease I feel in Chicago.
As I begin work on the 7 Days @ Minimum Wage video project, I keenly remember when I first moved to the Windy City in 2003. I moved midwest on the shaky strength of a job offer that shook apart just as I was arriving. Now here I was, with an urban planning masters degree, without an apartment, and with the sinking feeling I was about to return, albeit temporarily, to the crap jobs of my college days. I wish it had been that easy.
Walking out my front door and into the remains of a bank robbery this evening brought to mind the absurdity of life. Never knowing where it’ll take you, it’s always best to be prepared for any eventuality. Like hearing the tornado sirens go off. Or wondering what happened to your parachute. Or finally finding out you’re a talented writer, for that matter.
The headline a quote from my old New York friend, Sarah Massey, and one that speaks to my experience, as well. I rarely dote on that day. It’s been years since I stood on the Brooklyn Heights Esplanade at dusk, candle in hand, surrounded by thousands of my neighbors, mourning. I felt no need to watch the cable documentaries, nor for that matter Nicolas Cage crawling out from under a slab of concrete on the big screen. I was in Manhattan that morning–once was enough, thanks.
Recently, my Korean foodie friend, (‘I don’t freaking look like Margaret Cho!’) Rozella, and I were discussing what we liked about Chicago. Unlike me, Rozella’s a native, and we both stay here for different reasons. Rozella wants to be close to her family. I’m here simply because strangers say ‘hi’ to each other. It’s a friendly way of being completely absent from my NYC hometown.
I suppose it’s rude to take stock of people you know in public. Luckily, I have no such reluctance. I’m from New York. And so are Vicki and Adam. Two thirtysomething New Yorkers living in Lower Manhattan, paying an obscene rent, and just maybe looking for a change of scene. Adam scored an interview with a Chicago firm a few weeks ago. Not knowing anyone in Hogtown, Adam Googled the city to get the lay of the land and found my blog.
Exactly when I decided to leave New York has always been one of the biggest mysteries of my life. To this day, I still can’t identify the moment when I made or was set upon by the decision to leave behind Gotham and all of its angst and adopt the relentlessly friendly American Midwest as my home. However, a recent encounter on the roofdeck at Marina City chiseled into sharp relief for me one of the biggest reasons why I did it.