It’s mid-June in Chicago, and, week by week, summer and the city will empty, enthusiasm reserved in the heat, spirit shed with dripping sweat. Every remaining motive marches people east toward the Lake. Each step is pointed as if meant to avoid melting into the hot sidewalk. Maybe these pilgrims concentrate on the chairs, towels, coolers, and oversized umbrellas they carry, but they train their eyes on the space at their feet, avowing anticipation in sideways expressions and swallowed laughter. It’s too hot to ask much more than “How much longer?”
They seem sure their direction is the only recourse. Gathering themselves requires ambition, but their faith rests in believing, once started, they will accelerate to their destination like ice melting on a hot slide. Once there, they will be where they’re meant to be and bask in accepting each gift earned.
Only I go the other way, against their current, carrying things they’d find useless—books, a computer, tasks I want to complete. The sun walks behind them. I walk into the sun, looking up, fighting light as if I meant to speak to God at last. And I do think that perhaps I could turn, reinterpret this daily migration, reverse myself and try to believe in some acquiescence that isn’t surrender. Relaxing, I’m told, requires devotion. But I wonder how I’d feel, half-naked, half-buried in sand and stunned by noise, blaring sun, and company.
Time itself creates my self-consciousness. Regret is the only prayer I understand. No matter where I am, I dream of reasons to go inside.