Winters in Chicago are long, and they’re rough. By the time spring finally starts to roll around, it’s like Chicago explodes. Where the hell did all these people come from, I ask myself each year. Were they hibernating for the last five months? Even if it’s just a tease, like today, when the sun is shining and bars start opening their patios—although really it’s only 54 degrees and not warm, exactly—I feel my spirits start to lift.
The sun is shining. Warm weather is coming! Longer days and music festivals and flip flops and sundresses and vodka lemonades!
These are the kind of wild ideas that torment and tease us all until it really warms up for good. You know, in June. But there’s something about that anticipation, that wait for spring and summer, that I think makes Chicago summers feel, well, just fucking magical. Believe me, I know. Last summer was during my brief stint back in Indiana, and having to stick out a winter in Chi without the gift of summer was akin to getting grounded the week before spring break, and sitting at your grandmother’s house while all your friends went to the beach and partied without you.
I was thinking about this as I sat in my favorite coffee shop working today. The door was propped open and the sun shone bright into the doorway, the breeze blowing in almost warmly, but not quite. It felt like spring. It almost looked like spring. But across the street, the trees and plants were still bare and brown.
Sometimes it feels like winter is never going to come to an end. Every year, I have to question: Okay, when exactly will there be green leaves on the trees again? When can I finally not be bundled up every time I step out of my apartment? But then, like magic, one day I walk outside and they’ve just appeared. And suddenly, it’s spring.
It’s hard to keep faith that change is coming sometimes. Last year at this time, I was about to start packing up my apartment to move back in with my dad. I’d been waiting tables, interning, and job searching for two years, and nothing had happened. I felt like I was driving repeatedly into a brick wall, then getting out of the car, and banging my head into the wall for good measure. I felt defeated. I was broke, and knew I had to go home. While I tried to put up a brave face, and I reminded myself over and over that not all people were fortunate enough to have a parent who would invite them to move back in, rent free, at the age of 26, I still felt like a big, fat, fucking failure. The first week back in my childhood bedroom, I laid awake in bed each night, my heart racing, wondering if I’d still be sleeping there in a year. In five years? IN TEN?
Five and a half months later, I was back in Chicago. And a month or so after that, I finally got a writing job. It was temporary, but held the promise of a full-time position, with benefits. Those three months felt like forever, and until the final day of that three-month contract, I had no idea what was coming. After everything that I’d been through in the last few years, I’d be lying if I said I was optimistic. I quietly prepared myself to call my dad with the disappointing news. I had held on to a part-time waitressing job as a security blanket, so I braced myself to a life where I waited tables again full time, had no health insurance, and anxiously checked my bank account multiple times a day to make sure I hadn’t overdrafted for the umpteenth time.
Yeah, I know, what a defeatist attitude.
I got the job. (But you know that already, faithful blog reader, don't you? DON'T YOU?)
Calling my father to tell him I was finally going to have health insurance—and security—again made me even happier than getting the news I was hired. I remembered that I did have the capacity to be successful. I did have the ability to make positive changes in my life.
Today’s almost, but not quite, spring weather got me thinking about all this again today. That, and the fact that I started a workout routine again. I took a spin class on my lunch break today, and I haven’t felt so gloriously sore in years. I know, I know, every now and again I start rambling about my plans to exercise and then nothing much happens, but I am newly inspired. And for the first time in a long time, I have faith in myself.
Of course, change often comes in small steps. Like the fucking Chicago weather, just cause the sun is shining still doesn’t mean the damn tulips are going to bloom yet. What I’ve realized, though, is that you have to be patient. They’re coming.
And goddamn, aren’t they beautiful when they do.