Another run along Lincoln Park, careful to dodge fellow runners, walkers, some masked as we continue to distance ourselves from one another. Another cool but mild Saturday in Chicago, 59 degrees with the sun shining through scattered clouds moving northbound. My feet move in rhythm to Patti Smith’s Banga, her songs and spoken poems surge through my body.
Back at my block, I turn Eastward, walking toward the greenish horizon that is Lake Michigan.
I passed closed playgrounds, cautious dog walkers, mail carriers.
Standing on Lake Shore Drive, I cry, the water being so close but off-limits. Bereft of submerging my hands into its cold clear waters, my feet sinking deep, awkwardly with each sloppy step of my sneakers. Bereft of collecting beach glass, of standing close to waves threatening to soak my sneakers, my sox, I sobbed.
Suddenly, I heard laughter behind me.
I turned to see a malamute whose head and front body stood outside a stunning window grade from one of the stone Mansions lining the drive—turning from side to side, then stopping, its head tilted to inhale the Lake’s breeze. Her eyes narrowed as she drew in the fresh air, tolerating us admirers. Grateful for her beauty, her humorous presence, I took a few pictures of her and headed home.
My mother had the Coronavirus. She recovered in 3 weeks, but it took seven days for her test to confirm what she and her doctor already knew. Despite her advanced age, I knew she would survive as she always does. She is a model of strength and endurance.
But a tiny kernel inside me worried, as her office became a sort of COVID epicenter – over 20 people infected. And they unsuspectedly affected others. One healthy husband in his fifties was on a ventilator – luckily, he beat the odds and is doing ok! The flu has no rhyme or reason.
My outburst manifested this, and much of what I miss: visits home visiting family, hosting my thesis advisee for our “get shit done” Fridays and random chat with strangers. I am fortunate to teach online and to be financially secure. I don’t have health insurance, but as long as I socially distance myself and continue to exercise and eat right, I know I’ll weather the storm.
Although I know people have it far worse than I do, I don’t feel guilty about crying.
It’s all relative. I attempt to accept everyday contradictions, witnessing a perfect spring day with illness and death, with thousands facing uncertainty. Living in the moment, I admire clusters of newly flower daffodils, black-crested night herons nesting on high trees above the coyotes quarters in the zoo – and the serene malamute with eyes the color of the water.
Peace and Friendship!