This is Summer: Season Six {Episode 30}

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A beach afternoon

a break from our bustling days

cards under the clouds

~Natalia

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This is Summer: Season Six {Episode 26}

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Back at Montrose Beach

Water rose, taking over

the sand slips away

~Natalia

 

This is Summer: Season Six {Episode 17}

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Montrose Harbor Dock

They call him for this gig now

I come, walk the beach

~Natalia

Proud of This

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Under us, the concrete is warm, still retaining, exuding, the day’s heat. There are several tiers, like giant steps, leading from lakeside to grass, yards above us, behind us. Earlier, I snaked my car through orange event cones, loosely following the direction of reflective-vested parking attendants. Earlier, I walked, phone clutched to ear, through the harbor, past docked boats still laden with passengers, personal watercraft tied to docks while children paddled kayaks, paddleboards around their unmoving motors. Earlier, I walked along the lake, eyes roving over the crowns milling along the brilliant water, looking for those waiting for me, looking for the ones on the other end of the line.

Now, though, we’ve found each other. We’ve hugged, exchanged greetings, laughs, and a strawberry paleta that melted long before I arrived; now just a lukewarm bag of pink milk with a stick floating amidst the creamy liquid. We’ve jumped, at least, two of us have. Standing side by side, separated by two yards and my own suspicion of being thrown in, we backed up, set our feet, ran, flew, splashed. And repeated the flight into the rolling blue a second, third, fourth time. There on the lakefront concrete, two of us sit in puddles, water running off of our pants, dripping from my ponytail.

Behind us, so close and yet somehow beyond our collective consciousness, a couple sits on the top level, barely outside of the grass behind them. They must be talking, I tell myself with vague interest, but I cannot hear, and they blend into the background of the scene, no doubt sinking themselves into their own lakefront realm. To our left, eight young hispanics laugh and yell, taking turns throwing themselves into the water, to the chiding calls of their audience of peers. They jump, as we did, in their clothes, and then, after a while, three of them have begun a game throwing another’s wadded t-shirt as close to the edge as possible. The yells are amused, raucous, when the shirt inevitably falls over the side, a white bundle of fabric floating gently atop the rolling waves. Until splash, it’s grabbed, recollected, and the game begins once more.

Beyond them, a young couple listens to hip hop on a radio. Tunes both familiar and new drift across the lake. The lyrics, I know, are raunchy, the heart of the songs entirely opposed to much of what I stand for. Yet the music is not blaring, the intent not malicious, and the muffled lyrics lose their punch as they reach, float, escape harmlessly across the vast lake.

Across from our seat, near exactly in front of us, lies the Chicago skyline. Far to the left, the Hancock and the Sears stand solid, dark and tall against the stretching, then receding lineup of skyscrapers. A professional-grade grid when viewed from above, a concrete and steel tangle when seen from our viewpoint, I gaze at the city, marveling at its beauty, its seeming serenity; the way one skyline, one snapshot view, can contain all the brokenness, all the joy, all the diversity and movement and life of an entire city. My eyes trace the buildings, widening, focusing to encompass the width of the view, and I feel my heart swell with pride, with awe.

I went to school in this city. I rode, and still ride, the trains, the buses, that map the city roads with their ever-repeating routes. I worked in this city, first at the afterschool program, then at Moody, then, finally, in the kindergarten class I so adored. Still adore. I lived in this city, while at school, and I will live there again; my shared apartment a handful of miles from the very cement onto which I’m currently dripping. Living, working, loving, learning, I’ve done a lot in this city. But more than my accomplishments, I’m proud of the city itself. I’m proud of the people of this metropolis. I’m proud of the work that is done in every part of this place every single day. I’m proud of the problems that are faced, the challenges that are tackled, the solutions that arise, all around me. I’m proud of the people. The families, the couples, the individuals. And I’m proud to be one of them.

Living, working, learning, I’ve done a lot in this city, and for that I am thankful; thankful and so very proud to count myself a part of this moving, breathing, chaotic heart of a city.

~Natalia

This is Summer: Season Four {#3}



“A dangerous lake,” 

But yet, here we are again;

Living on the edge. 

~Natalia 



This is Summer: Season Four {#1}

“You guys grew up here,”

The father nods at the lake.

I know, I tell him.

~Natalia

All the Other Things

Oh I look forward to the days

when class prep

and job applications

and grading

are not the things that keep me from writing,

from living,

from dreaming

in this space.

Of course, there will always be things

that come between me and here.

But the applying and the stressing

and the planning and the prepping

are things that I’ll be just fine

taking a break from;

things I might not even miss.

But I do them now.

Amongst weekend visits with dears from long ago,

and teeny baby house guests

and events and fun,

beach times and lakeside runs.

And all the other things

that happen before

I put finger to key,

and begin to type these very words.

~Natalia

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