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Showing posts from June, 2020

The Lead Up

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When the bus didn't leave, I knew destiny was in play. It’s one of those things, like missing a plane. You wonder, why did I miss it? You hear the stories. The 9/11 flight attendant filling in for a coworker. The man sprinting through the airport, arriving at the gate a hair too late (thank God for that).  That’s how it was on the bus at 11:35 p.m. that Friday. I had checked the transit tracker, left Sue’s at just the right time (didn't want to wait in the cold). The bus arrived promptly. Then it sat parked on Broadway for 15 minutes. Just me and the driver with the engine humming. I could hear the purr, feel its warmth beneath my seat.  After some time, I called to the driver. “Why are we sitting here?” Admittedly, it was more a whine than a question. He eyed me through the rearview, said nothing. Typical. If Sue were there, she would have said, “Totally.” As if it were totally typical for a Chicago bus driver to be sitting idle with the engine humming when all you rea

The Accident

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Chicago, Illinois 12:04 a.m., December 4, 2004   I was half way across the street before my life changed. I couldn’t see the car, just two blinding headlights set an ungodly width apart. Their whiteness barreled toward me with no sign of slowing.  I raised my hand, shielding my eyes from the glare. In that moment, time froze. Scenes from my life played furiously through my mind, a movie on fast forward.  Only, this was no movie. This was real.  My mind raced. Despite the fury of my thoughts, I had never known such clarity.  The air smelled of frost. As the car neared, I considered sprinting forward or falling backward to avoid being hit. It was futile. The car was as wide as a school bus. So I stayed where I was — in the middle of the crosswalk — and told myself, “Stay loose.”  With my life hanging in the balance, I had nothing to lose and everything to lose. I hadn’t even begun to live, and I knew it. I was 33 years old living the life of a 23-year-old, a grown

The Promise

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I still pray in the bath. Out of habit now, not out of necessity. Once a place becomes a shrine it stays that way forever. Besides, if you're going to take a plunge this deep, you may as well start in the tub. When my shift ended, I'd dash home from the bus stop in snow boots, the temp hovering near zero as I raced for hot water. If I could get there, I could get through it. Walk in the door, throw off the boots and go. That's how it went. To the kitchen, the bath, the couch. In that order. Those were the days when tea made everything better. Returning home, the kettle always came first. The blue ceramic one that belonged to Grandma. Inevitably, it dripped onto the gas burner, letting off a crisp, flame-broiled sound like someone flipping burgers. Even so, I couldn't bring myself to get rid of it.  Peppermint or chamomile, cinnamon or spice, the tea was as integral to this ritual as the water itself. Evenings were about steeping, through and through. One was for the m