Friday, September 29, 2006

How I keep warm during fall

“Is it your birthday?” the lady at the counter asked while we checked out our purchases. It was already 9 p.m.; the stores lining the streets of downtown Chicago were closing for the day but PJ and I hadn’t noticed the time.

“No, it isn’t,” I answered. “We’re just getting ready for fall.”

“I’m sorry,” she replied, then looked at the pile of coats, hats and fall what-nots on the counter. “It just seems like it is.”

PJ and I simply smiled at each other.

That night, as I lulled myself to sleep, I pondered about my misery. Since I moved, I have had this pervasive feeling of loneliness that would visit me at unexpected moments. It comes when we’re watching TV, or when I’m cooking, or when I’m just reading the papers. The quiet nights are a given, as well as the rainy weekend mornings.

Then I remembered that lady’s question. Was it my birthday? And because I would know for sure if it was my birthday, I realized that I just looked too fortunate to be miserable.

All these months, all I could care about is how lonely I’ve been. I have spent so much energy counting the things I don’t have rather than counting the things I already have. On worse days, I torment PJ by giving him the cold shoulder and pointing out things he doesn’t do rather than give him credit for the things he does. I forgot that when we go out with my friends and family, he picks up the tab. That he picks up my clothes from the dry cleaners. That he preorders the DVDs I like without being asked. That he always makes himself available for me, which is more than anyone can ask for.

My every day life has been plagued with gripes and questions. The worst part is I blamed my life, my family, even my husband for ripping me off my roots. But in truth, I did this to myself. Yes, I allowed the whiny monster in me grow, and I have to kill it now before it gets the chance to kill my relationships.

I remember when I was getting ready to leave; I folded my dresses, wrapped my shoes, and tucked them inside my suitcases as though I was only going away for the weekend. I gave away many belongings but in my wild imagination, those things still belonged to me, and when I return, they would be in the same place where I left them. I said my goodbyes but I forgot that even when I'm gone, life would go on and the clock would kept on turning. I was—and still am—afraid that when I come back, I won't recognize the city of my childhood and my mother's childhood, the same city that visits me in my sleep at night. I should have taken more caution because now it seems this expedition is taking longer than I allowed.

I have been holding on to a life I no longer have. I am ashamed to admit that to this day, I still convert currencies before making a purchase, and compare weather, seasons, people, TV shows and, dare I say it, politicians.

I need to let my new life in my door. I belong here now; this will be my home for many good years, if not forever, so I can’t watch it wither away while I indulge myself in helplessness.

It was time for me to be pliant, to accept changes. That is not to say that I am erasing my old city from the plot of my life. After all, life is a story with chapters, characters, settings, plots, conflicts and resolutions. At the risk of sounding cliché, that chapter of my life is finished and the characters have moved on, but some will always remain largely at play. But like any book, I can always turn back the pages whenever I want to remember.

I decided to count the things I can and I have. For starters, I can cook now, do my own laundry, watch football, and call my friends and family as often as I’d like. I have coats, gloves, hats and a reliable heater that will keep me warm throughout fall and winter. On quiet nights or rainy weekend mornings, I have a hot cup of coffee, an abundant library, a great view of a spectacular city outside my window, and a husband who knows when I’m crying even when I don’t shed a tear.

Photo credits:
Michigan Avenue:
Woman in fall leaves: Missouri Baptist Foundation at:


ExoticPrincess said...

tough it out gal. btw, where did yu stay before? You just mved to the place you are @? Chica has the coldest & windiest winters.

here's how i do it said...

Thank you. Yes, I just moved here to Chicago from a fairly warmer city, but I've heard a lot about the cruel weather here.

Hope your exams went well.

Overwhelmed! said...

Hi there! I found your blog through the recent comment you left on my blog. Thanks for that!

I'm glad you stumbled across my Five Ingredient Friday recipe exchange. I'm not a very imaginative cook myself, so these recipes are so very helpful to me! :) Please feel free to join us next week, if you'd like.

I have a brother who's 26 years old and married, he's been married for 4 years now. Married life hasn't been easy for him and he's struggling in making a career for himself, but he's hanging in there.

I looked forward to reading more about your perspective of married life in the twenties. :)

kriszia said...

it's been years since we talked, and I know you're younger than me, but it seems like I'm heading in a road you and patrick once took. If things go right, i'll be leaving my roots too. I know I said 'if things go right', but part of me is already dreading leaving. The thought of it is bittersweet, but reading your entry gives me comfort.