From the Roof

The moon’s just appearing when I arrive.

Behind me, the wind gently ruffles the bright banners they’ve strung along the fence.

Before me, beyond the red chain link fence, I watch the brilliant white moon climb higher into the cloud-specked sky.

The Hancock building, Water Tower Place, dozens of high rise apartment buildings stand tall, resolute, under the rising moon’s glow.

Around me, friends and friends to be stand in groups of fours, fives, the rumble and swing of their voices mixing with the latin music in the background, and the honking, rolling, of cars five stories below us.

I stand next to the fence, behind the food table.

I used to set out the food, serve it, hawk it like some prized item for sale.

Horchata! Pan dulce! Who would like a spicy lollipop?!

Now, it’s Nico who slices, arranges, serves; she’s taken that role now.

But we’re both there, our backs to the checkered skyscrapers, watching the people, offering the food, laughing at memories from the year past, swapping ideas, thoughts, on the year to come.

Later, when the quesadillas are gone, and Nico and I have worked together to drain the last drop of horchata into a waiting cup, they bring out the piñata.

They are thirty there in the circle, and maybe even more.

I used to stand there; I used to lead this group, be on this team. And then, last May, there were meetings, planning, graduations and moving on and a new team came and now I stand back.

I stand back and watch them shine.

Standing on the table, behind the circle, I watch, laugh, exclaim in mock anguish, when they destroy the piñata that we adopted as a pet, a mascot, last year.

Then there are treats, gummy chews, lollipops, scattered across the roof’s flooring, and I’m not watching anymore, just for moment.

For a moment, I stand on the table, the evening wind moving easily, gently, through my hair.

All around me, Chicago buildings containing thousands of Chicago lives square off opposite one another.

Above, the deep purple sky fades to the ever-present orange of a city that does not sleep, not completely.

Below, cars, taxis, vans whirl up and down LaSalle Boulevard, their perpetual honking now a part of my subconscious; I don’t hear them anymore, don’t register the urgency, annoyance, communication of the beeping that ricochets along the street.

And here, here on the roof, we’re doing what we’ve done before- celebrating- but with new people, new plans, new ideas,

and it’s all exciting, bold, brave, new, and yet strangely familiar, comfortable, all at the same time.



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