I’m going through old journals as I find them, though “journal” is generous. I’ve always walked around writing things down, sometimes snippets and other times outpourings, but they’ve rarely had the neat structures of my adolescent diaries. Reading through these notes and stories and ramblings is akin to piecing together a puzzle of my life. No one remembers everything.
This note to myself is undated but must have been from one of the trips The Philosopher and I took from the suburbs — where I/we lived for so long — into the city. Such adventures always pleased me greatly, and while I knew I’d have to come back to Chicago proper or lose my mind or at least my self, he hated the city and I attempted to accept where we were as good enough.
By 2006, it was clear that would never happen. I offered an ultimatum of sorts: I was moving to the city with the boys and he could come or not. He did follow, begrudgingly, but the conflict itself was so much deeper. This notebook entry reminds me just how conflicted I was:
“You become a different person in the city,” says the man who will keep me in the suburbs for years beyond my desire or comfort. He says this when we are driving into Chicago via the Eisenhower, into its Lower Wacker bowels, emerging with the lake on one side and the cityscape on the other, accompanied by his sighs and a tsk or two, his extreme disapproval. This man says he loves me but what he perhaps does not realize is that he loves an alternate-reality version of me, someone I can barely recognize and find only vaguely familiar. It is not the city that makes me unfamiliar; it is our suburban home that distorts me into a funhouse mirror of any person I’d wish to be. That he can’t see the difference means everything. Of course I will be the one blamed.