Used to be one of the rotten ones

It snowed yesterday, the third-earliest snowfall on record for Chicago.

Hot Doug’s closed on Friday. I never made it down one last time like I meant to. It kept escaping my mind until the beginning of this week, at which point the lines had already grown beyond my tolerance level. I waited for over three hours early in the summer as it was.

I will be going to Club Foot one more time tomorrow night before it, too, shuts its doors. It’s one of those places where most of the stories I can tell are ones I lived only vicariously, but I have memories of my own as well. I’ll drink to the music and take pictures of the memorabilia on the walls and use the uncanny glowing hand dryer one more time.

The city drops its leaves while you aren’t paying attention.

—–

Today marks ten years to the day since I left high school, having tested for my diploma over summer vacation. I knew the anniversary was coming up, so I went back to my old LiveJournal and checked. (It’s like reading a stranger’s writing in places. I read what I wrote and find references and inside jokes I no longer understand. Other posts could have been written yesterday.)

I was seventeen. I had just started my first job as a dishwasher at a Thai restaurant. I was excited to start college courses.

My post from that day:

“I left high school today. For good.

I also applied to SCC today, and I’ll start classes in two weeks, if luck holds.

I just got off work (which I’m loving) an hour ago. Now I’m holed up at Bloodstrike. Soon, I get to ride home through the night and breathe in the fall air.

I love my life. I feel free. If this is adulthood, I’m not so scared.

I’m taking the bus out to Sacramento tomorrow to take some assessment tests for my English and math placement. Wish me luck.”

I could laugh or cry at that girl, on the verge of learning about work and distance and sex and heartbreak and blind unthinking fear, but still oblivious.

Maybe I’ll choose to love her instead.

We’re not so different, after all. I’ve come full circle, and here I am in the middle of another autumn, in a relatively new work situation, with a sense of independence I don’t fully understand and the perpetual feeling that I’ve gotten myself in over my head, even though I’ve always been able to kick my way back to the surface all these years. I’m still lugging around a heart that wants to be everywhere at once.

—–

This is fairly desultory. What it boils down to is that I’m feeling the passage of time intensely these days.

Here is a dedication.