Friday, October 28, 2016

Chapter 21

This is the beginning of the first chapter of Part III:



I lit my first cigarette and watched a small kid
Cussin’ at a can he was kickin’
Then I crossed the empty street
and caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken
And it took me back to something
That I’d lost somehow, somewhere along the way

- Kris Kristofferson, “Sunday Morning Coming Down”

We lived in a four bedroom loft apartment on the top floor of a ten story apartment building, directly beneath the fifty-foot golden clock tower perched atop the building, which lit up Greektown and the Near West side like an Athenian full moon. If I felt out of place amongst the yuppie crowd in the lecture halls and library aisles of my law school downtown, things aren’t much better in my home neighborhood of Greektown, where I am an Irishmen in search of whiskey and sports on streets that were lined only with classical architectural columns and statutes of Greek gods, where the storefronts are adorned with Christian relics, homemade wax candles, wines and cheeses, where the streets are lit up with the neon lights spelling out “Greek Islands,” “Artopolis,” “Rodity’s,” “Pegasus Restaurant and Tavern,” “Santorini” and “The Parthenon,” out of place among the old men and women in wool caps waiting at the bus stops and the thirty-something parents pushing newborns in strollers. I don't even like fucking gyros. Some dozen miles away, I might have found home in the tree-lined streets of Wrigleyville or Lincoln Park, where young college students and post-grads like myself guzzled beers on the front porches of townhouses and in the windows of Chicago’s corner bars and pubs while searching for their way in the world, but since I was in Petoskey all summer I left the apartment search in the hands of my roommate Ryan, the Naperville native; I didn’t give Chicago the forethought I should have, in retrospect. The only place I feel any semblance of home in Chicago is up in the tenth floor window of our apartment skyrise beneath the clock tower, listening to Red Wings play by play announcer Ken Kal narrate another winter night in Chicago for me through my headphones, a tall glass of whiskey soda at my side, but even there, I’m usually alone; I would often get up at whistle breaks and intermissions, to look out the living room window into the Chicago night, the skyline bedazzled with glimmers of red and white lights in the Sears Tower and other skyscrapers -- great Chicago, where my classmates and roommates are out beginning the rest of their lives, and I’m amazed that in a city so immense I could feel so utterly alone.

Most mornings, I take for granted the view of the sun rising from the East over the cityscape; its appeal had quickly been lost on account of the blinding light it greeted me with every morning at six a.m.. But something in the whiskey beckoned me towards the apartment windows at night time. It was all there at my fingertips, the vast skyline domineered by the geometric angles of the skyscrapers, reaching for stars mired by smog; the steeple-topped churches humbly genuflecting at the feet of the steel skyscrapers; the factory chimneys waving endless handkerchiefs of smoke into the frostbitten air; and behind it all lurked the mysterious enormity of Lake Michigan frozen over, where icebergs squeezed forwards towards Lakeshore Drive, hoping to climb ashore and rest their weary masses; even further out on the edge horizon lurk the deepest depths of Lake Michigan, where the souls of sailors lost to the Great Lakes are frozen in debaucherous howls in the ship graveyards at the cavernous bottoms of the lake. The slow march of life and death exists outside my window, but I am stuck inside that tenth floor apartment, alone in a room with a guy that I judge worse than anyone else, stuck in the past. 

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