Happiness seems to be playing Marco Polo with me lately.I've been blindfolded, grasping at objects — usually food, but sometimes other various things — that seem to pass for happiness, but a moment later I hear it calling to me from a distant corner, still out of reach. What a stupid game.
But. Something happened last night. I took a leap. Made a bold move. The details of which I can't really get into here, but I'll tell you this: It involved a bar. Going to a bar. This bar. Alone. And as I handed the bouncer (yes, at 6 p.m., there was a bouncer — welcome to River North) my ID and wandered upstairs in search of my party, the blindfold slipped down the bridge of my nose. Obviously, without the obstruction it was easier to see. I found the people I was looking for; I set my public-radio messenger bag on the floor, under a pool table, next to my fake Uggs. I made new friends. And I drank beer. I watched curling and shouted over the din of after-work revelers. I scoffed at the crowd but realized they were just…people. I had fun. On the way home, I wove through empty streets in the cold, dry air, absorbing the silence as much as the sights around me. It's easy to put the blinders on, forget that not everyone is so lucky to wake up in Chicago's temperamental embrace every morning. The lights of the Merchandise Mart, Marina City's twin honeycombs and office buildings I'll never see inside sparkled in the darkness, reflected in the Chicago River, and I tossed the blindfold away as I climbed the stairs to the El.
I woke up refreshed and ready. Ready — for what? Catching happiness won't be so hard now that I can see, I thought. I ate breakfast while Giada de Laurentiis played with mascarpone on the DVR. I laced up my shoes and went for a jog for the first time since…well, it's been too long. The frigid air rushed into my lungs; I was exhilarated. Catching happiness will be even easier when I can move faster. I wandered my neighborhood alone. I sipped a drink from Starbucks. I bought a dusty desklamp from a bustling vintage bazaar. I grocery shopped. I smiled at strangers. I bumped into friends; I stopped to chat. I laughed hysterically with my favorite bartender; I talked to strangers. I drank wine; I ate cheese. It was Paige Worthy of an unknown vintage, but it felt familiar. I've been here before. Before the single and disastrous, there was single and fabulous, and deep down there's always been just fabulous. That was today. Catching happiness will be easier if I distract myself with living. I imagine, one of these days, we'll just bump into each other like old friends. And live happily ever after. No more games.