“Meet me on the corner of Rush and Walton” he said. So his friend turned to the left as he exited the parking structure and focused on the corner ahead. Sure enough, he was there waiting, on the corner, as promised. Strangers passing by heard a strange declaration, especially for the time; a time of uncertainty, and of plague. “Let’s go buy a restaurant” he said with a smirk. It was an odd thing to say in front of the building where they stood, where the eatery within had been boarded up and closed, but it was not a whim. They were going to buy a restaurant, that very day. As they walked past the barricades and plywood encasements brought on by the summer’s unrest, they retraced their steps in friendship, from raw adolescents to adult roommates, to now, business partners, trolling this same avenue for fun in the wee hours of countless nights. Two neighborhood kids trying to make something from this morass, this near nothingness, that presented itself, suddenly, awfully, this last summer of the regime.
Hope is often found in what is brand new, but sometimes the old and familiar, the dusty and worn can produce something similar. The world around them seemed wounded but somehow newly awake. The resilience of the distressed can be an inspiration.
When I’m pulling around slow it actually feels like I’m on water, which I am, of course – these streets are always wet this time of year. More than that, the suspension and the springy seats in these old cars provide a certain feeling of buoyancy. This classic barely fits in the garage, and is too big for the ride share triple parking on the streets now, but there is a certain majesty to its long, slow turns onto Walton Place. Drifting in under the moon and neon mix of light, top open to the elements; the lake is just a block away but it feels like we are already on it.
“…Yeas, yeas, I know my dear, but let’s drop it for a mo’ and forget our troubles in these bottles…”.
“Forget? Forget?!!! You gotta be kidding me! There is war in Europe, Insurrection on the home front, and structural inequality everywhere, and I mean, the bombing will stop and justice will prevail, but if you think I’m gonna forget about the lipstick on your collar, mister you are sadly mistaken and oh my god this wine is good….”.
The time before a restaurant opens is sublime, quiet and anticipatory, full of hope, and surpassed only by the frenzied euphoria an hour later. There is music to the clink of glasses, clank of silverware, pop of cork, and bassline murmur of conversation. There is rhythm to the dash of the servers, the loll of the diners, the sinuous stretch of the one, you know her, that always seems to be falling out of her dress in the middle of a room. The impromptu composition of all of this is our jazz, our evening song. Time to work, time to dance. The feeling begins, and then overwhelms. Give me a kiss and let’s do this again tomorrow night…
“Do you really think the authoritarian expansionism will gain a foothold once civilians become war casualties”
Silently, to herself: “Hmmm… I know these are really dangerous times but this conversation is so much better than the ‘What in the hell is she wearing’ talk that I seemed perpetually dragged into before 2016.”
“Of course not – not for any extended length of time. Tyrants always lose their grips on power when opposed by a reasonable resistance movement. But it doesn’t take long to destabilize and demoralize institutions. Speaking of which, Isn’t it grand to have this place back open and full of drinkers and diners?”
“Waitress – another round on your way back, please, but no Russian Vodka this time. I’m hoppin’ mad!
All three singers, harmonizing: “Don’t turn around, woo hoo hoo… Der Kommissar’s in town, woo hoo hoo… You’re in his eye and you’ll know why, the more you live the faster you will die…”
Silently, to herself: “I’m soo worried for may family, they are all in Kiev…”