Today I sit at the high bar of that purveyor of caffeine where the outdoor seating is full of bright green umbrellas. I quickly picked the spot on the far left, next to the electrical outlets since my 18 month old Dell is already a little needy and doesn’t like to work without being plugged in. There are five spaces and the other two customers at the bar have spread out evenly. On the far right a gentleman is working steadily with his shiny Mac and stack of books. He’s writing something and he sips his Grande Americano as his fingers fly, only interrupted by the occasional conversation that seems far too loud for a coffee shop. In between is a gentleman I’d guess is in his seventies wearing a tightly woven fedora with the smallest feather in the brim. He sits with his gently worn, yet meticulously cared for leather satchel. He is reading a photocopied and stapled article about German refugees as he makes the occasional note in his composition book. It’s labeled by hand, “Book #4” and he keeps his place with a small binder clip. He reads, he writes, he sips the espresso in the small white mug. He stops only to use his article to swat at the fly which does not want to leave the window. He checks to make sure it didn’t fall on his bag and goes back to reading. I desperately want to read what he’s writing, but if I peek anymore he will notice. Me, I’m writing but I’m listening to Mumford and Sons, I’m gazing at the unbelievably blue sky, and pondering why people are so bad at parking.
It’s my last morning without the kids. I’m trying hard to write though it’s hard to admit I’m feeling so rusty. My mind isn’t settling quickly as it should. I’m fascinated by all the life outside the window. The mom and her two daughters on their coordinating bikes with matching baskets, the tag still in the smallest. The family driving their beaming daughter in a Mini Cooper. The detective who has been here three out of five days this week. The Northwestern fans in their purple polo shirts. And “open up my eyes, tell me I’m alive” rings in my earbuds but I can still here the families gathered behind me laughing at the videos they are sharing on their iPhones. The street is charming and I remember why so many leave Chicago for the city north of us where the trees are yarn bombed and everyone seems so happy.
There is a lot I want to write. I want to tell you how living in the city has changed and shaped me more than I thought possible. I want to tell you how I struggle between wanting to write more while simultaneously wanting to wrap my arms around my girls and never let them go. I want to tell you sending my kids to public school is an act of faith. I want to tell you what it’s like to have your theology and parenting questioned. So much to write and all I can do is sing along “say something, say something, something like you love me.” And I know the words I type go out as prayers I don’t even understand but the more I hear the clacking of the keyboard the more I hear my heart’s cry go up and there is something holy even in the corner of a loud Starbucks.