This is a “Guest Letter” written by my friend, Megan, who leaves Chicago tomorrow for the Texas heartlands. Megan and I met through a fitness (cough, semi-cult) group here in Chicagoland called November Project. In the time I’ve known her, she’s run marathons in superhero costumes, given fierce hugs, and even listened to some of my rambling stories and ideas.
This idea in particular– writing a Guest Letter– was prompted by a post-happy hour sushi eating session in which both of us wound up gushing:
WOW MOVING AND LEAVING PLACES AND PEOPLE REALLY SUCKS.
AND IS ACTUALLY SO SO SO HARD.
The moonlight on the bayou
A Creole tune that fills the air
I dream about magnolias in bloom
And I’m wishin’ I was there.
“Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans,”
As I look out over my friends’ backyard, the moon floats over the bayou.
The air feels heady.
And seemingly everyone I could’ve ever wished into existence is standing, right there, amidst the grass and the crawfish boil tables and the twinkling lights in front of me.
Two weeks ago, I returned to New Orleans for a whirlwind weekend of running and parades and naps by the bayou and reconnecting with friends. On the last day, I returned to the Bayou and found several new letters and an empty notebook (!). Here is the letter I left in the notebook:
It is somewhat of a weird miracle how memories resurface.
How they are remembered, retold, rehashed.
How biking or walking or running or sitting in one place can have the kind of magic that lures and pulls you back to another time, another place, another person— a glimmer of Orion’s belt, the snap of a wine cork, a faint whiff of toasted hazelnut.
In French and Creole cultures, this kind of remembrance encapsulates the magic of déjà-vu— the sense that what you are experiencing au présent, you have already experienced au passé.
The sense that you are living in this shadowy yet glimmering place between past and present.
Today marks my one month “move-iversary” to Chicago.
As in, one month ago, I unloaded all of my books and tchotchkes and ate more pizza than my body could handle to call Chicago “home.”
Or whatever “home” really means these days.
I have been thinking a lot about what this means and how to celebrate this– one month of making new friends! One month of attempting to understand public trans! One month of reading and talking and listening and reading some more!
But this has also made me acutely aware of how much work and understanding I still need to do to really–truly– call Chicago home.
Made me realize how much of this city I don’t know, don’t understand.