The four-year anniversary of my move to Chicago passed without fanfare.(Well, it definitely passed without fanfare, now that I know my four-year anniversary here was actually September 23, 2007. October 1: moving anniversary, observed.)
I woke up this morning, my comforter hiked up to my chin as the radiators hissed back to life; Emaline was pawing at my bedroom door, mewing to be let in. Or fed. Her requests sound remarkably similar. Happy October, I thought, as I crept out from under the covers, stretching a pair of thin cotton slippers around my bare feet, still sore from walking around in boots for hours at an event the night before. I woke up craving apple pancake, and when I looked it up, I found I had everything I needed to make the recipe. I padded to the kitchen and put water on for tea, preheated the oven and switched on NPR — the fall pledge drive and predictably dry, good-natured guilt-tripping from the on-air personalities that goes along with warm me in a way that's almost impossible to explain. The apartment smelled like heaven: spiced tea, apples, warm dough, the anticipation of maple syrup — mixed with that dry, warm crackle from the radiators and a faint, wafting whiff of Emaline's lavender-scented litter. It smelled like my heaven, anyway. My Chicago heaven. I can't believe I ever doubted this would be my home — and I did, for a long time.
I sat on the back steps with my tea and called my mother to say good morning, looking out over the intersection of countless backyards from my third-floor vantage point. Autumn is off to a glorious start; the leaves are starting to turn, and that feeling of endless possibility is still with me.
The day passed without fanfare, but not without friends.
The apple pancake, puffed to perfection, I shared with Sean at just a few moments' notice. I'm blessed — finally, after four years here — with more than a few friends who embrace spontaneity and (Ah…blessed seems like such a hokey word to describe this feeling, but it's almost the only one that gets at this profound sense of fortune.) We poked fun at Rachael Ray for a few minutes before going our separate ways.
The rest of my day — cloudless, cool, carefree — was spent with girlfriends, college football and fall beer. Lisa, Mary and I went from a deserted bar in the Gold Coast to one in Roscoe Village that filled as the afternoon wore on and the sun dropped behind the low-lying buildings across the street. The games didn't matter much; they were the day-drinking backdrop for our gossiping, boy
talking bashing and story swapping.
There is unexpectedly and decidedly a new man in my life, and he joined us out after he left work. We drank another beer and snacked on sweet potato fries as we contemplated our next move: to another bar in Bucktown, this one deafening and packed with rabid Badgers. No one at our table went to Wisconsin, but we still applauded every completed pass, screamed at the TVs on every touchdown.
Wisconsin was well on its way to defeating Nebraska by the time I left; the halftime report began as we walked out, and the party raged while we drove up Damen toward my quiet, beautiful apartment building. Solo on my sofa, I polished off the last of my much-needed Thai fried rice, and Montee Ball clinched the Badgers' victory with his fourth touchdown of the game.
As Saturday melts into Sunday, I'm propped up against two pillows in the queen-size bed I bought for myself this summer — one of my first-ever big, grown-up purchases — and listening to Wilco as I write. I thought I hated Wilco. My little cat is asleep next to me, and I'm just blissfully bewildered, wondering when everything managed to fall so perfectly in line. There was nothing really special about today…except everything.