If I don’t have you, at least I have the city. Cheering me on when I just barely make the train. Humming along as I sing on a crowded downtown street, thousands of people and not one listening. Sending beautiful city miracles: three walk signs when I’m late for work, a reasonably priced falafel in a gentrifying neighborhood, lingering eye contact with a striking woman on the el. A city where for one night, a roomful of acquaintances can laugh, cheers, and hug like old friends.
If I don’t have you this winter, at least I’ll have Euchre nights at Nick’s, hot mugs of spiced wine at the Christmas market, an excuse to sit at home in slippers cocooned and watching the humidifier breathe life into a room that hasn’t felt the sun in days. I have new books to read and poems to write and tears to sob because no one has time to deal with that when the sun is shining on Chicago.
I’ll live without you in the spring; it’s not my favorite season, but I’ll be happy to break out my t-shirts when it hits 45 again. The world will be gray and green and I’ll splash in muddy puddles on my way to work and take bike rides through undiscovered neighborhoods.
Summer’s the best time to be lonely, the nights are shorter. I’ll drink a giant beer at a street fest and plunge into the lake, ice cold but forgiving, and I’ll make plans on weeknights and watch the city light up at night, building by building, full of people who could feel more or less alone than I do, but I’ll never know.
Fall looks like you, in your grays and yellows and turtlenecks, but I’ll still make apple baked goods and browse rows of corn and carrots at the farmers market in a light coat. The cool air will capture my breath for the first time in months and I’ll remember how wild it is to breathe in and out. How human to feel lonely in a roomful of people you love and perfectly full on the walk home.
Each sidewalk crack and scuttling leaf a memory, taking you further from who you once were, but you’re not lost.