Chicago River Dreams

The most memorable trip I took as a kid was to Chicago with my mom and sister. My mom was there for work, and my sister and I were permitted to tag along. We got to miss a week of school, with a week’s worth of homework packed in our bags. My sister and I were allowed to roam the hotel while my mom worked. This meant vending machine snacks and time at the pool. This was before the days of cell phones or any other kind of technology that would distract us from hour long games of Marco Polo.

My memory is spotty at best regarding that trip, but what I remember most is the view from our hotel room. It looked out on the Chicago river in downtown Chicago. At night the lights from all the buildings glistened and danced across the water top. It was mesmerizing. I stayed up late every night just staring out that window.

I recall leaving that trip with a new drive to be a hotel manager. Not because I had any idea what a hotel manager did, I didn’t. It was just the idea of living in the permanent excitement of that week and that city. It felt like the life I wanted to live.

Who knew that a little more than 10 years laters, I’d be living out of my suitcase, and spending about 70% of my year in hotel rooms all over the country and the world. Finally I was living the exciting life in big cities that I’d dreamt of. Like most things, the reality didn’t live up to my expectations. I began having a huge case of germ-a-phobia and I couldn’t shake the thoughts of, “were these sheets clean?” and, “how many dirty asses had sat on this toilet before me?” I couldn’t figure out what was missing from that excitement I had as a kid, staring out at those sparking lights.

Perhaps it is always like that…the thought of a place or things far exceeding the reality of it. There were a lot of really cool experiences I had in my travels, but in many ways because of where I was in my life, much of it I was unable to fully appreciate. I was unconscious, unmedicated, and immature. I was still chasing happiness outside of myself. I became determined to get out of my traveling career and settle down. I was lonely and wanted the beautiful wife, white picket fence, and a dog.

I never got the white picket fence but I did manage to find the other two. There were moments of amazing beauty and pure joy in that marriage/relationship. There were also two sick people living under one roof destined to make each other miserable. Once again, reality failed to measure up. All those romance movies, The Notebook and When Harry Met Sally, had let me down.

When that dream unraveled, I was left only with nightmares for many years. My mental health rapidly declined, and everything close to suicide started sounding good. There was one last dream I hadn’t yet pursued, which was living the single life with warm weather and long walks on the beach. Salt air and sunshine for sure contained all the magic of every childhood vacation memory.

3 years now a Floridian and in many ways it has not disappointed. Florida is every bit as beautiful as I had remembered.

I’ve learned a lot from all my adventures.

Sometimes late a night in my pool, when the lights sparkle across the top of the water, my thoughts travel back to the Chicago river. I find myself trying to put my finger on what exactly my heart felt or had been seeking. What was it in those memories that I had been chasing all this time? Then when I come back to the present moment, treading water, staring up at the night sky…I realize that I’ve finally found it.

Appreciation Before Depreciation

Heart that beats without distress,
Comfortable nights rest,
Bending with ease,
Walks with pain free knees,
Driving with no restrictions,
Healthy with no addictions,
Bed that is safe and warm,
Umbrella during a thunderstorm,
Thoughts and no headaches,
Clear skin without outbreaks,
Food to eat,
Shoes on feet,
Free without a case,
An affectionate embrace,
Love of family on holidays,
Drives with no delays,
Snuggling with mans best friend,
Wounds that quickly mend,
Losing weight without effort,
Forgiveness for not knowing better,
Having someone to pay your bills,
Kissed booboos on your spills,
Roof to keep you safe and dry,
Spouse to dry your crying eye,
Full set of teeth,
Clear lungs as you breathe,
Spryness of youth,
Wrinkle free, soft, and smooth,
Feelings of peace and calm,
Security of your dad and mom.

While you have them take advantage,
Don’t take these things for granted,
Embrace them while they exist,
Because once they’re gone they are sorely missed.

Scary Story

Just got home, it’s late, and story time,
No this isn’t your run of the mill nursery rhyme,
It’s the kind that will keep you up at night,
Not rated R but contains strong self hate that may incite fright,
The after 10 delight,
The they judge you, can’t share with you, don’t want to be near you story,
The if your ass was smaller or you were prettier then they’d love you allegory,
But don’t worry,
Turn the lights on and check under the bed,
It’s all in your head,
But it’s based on actual events the story said,
“She looked at you anxiously when you spoke”,
“He wouldn’t sit next to you”, that’s all she wrote.
Never mind the people who knew your name,
Or who seemed glad you came,
The story is still the same,
You are ugly, worthless, lame,
You are not a caring human being,
Why would you entertain this story? Its just mean!
The debate continues, “because it’s true!” it screams,
Even if it is true…which it is not,
You don’t have to entertain every plot!
Change the story, make that shit up,
To what? That everyone loves me?
That just sounds fake,
Who doesn’t like fiction? For Pete’s sake!
Give it a new take, the best ever re-make,
Something with a happy ending,
That you have a good heart, are loved and are worthy of friending,
And read that shit every night,
Until it sounds right.
And read that shit every night,
Until it FEELS right!

Thinking Addiction

My greatest addiction,
The cause of all my afflictions,
Including my drinking,
My stinking thinking.
The voice that talks that is not me,
The one who lies constantly,
Driving down my self-esteem,
Saying things that are just plain mean.

If I don’t keep a conscious eye,
And be the watcher as the thoughts pass by,
If I self identify with the thought, calling it my own,
I allow it to become full blown.
Then I believe the lie,
Feeding it, allowing it to magnify,
“Why do you act so vexed?
Can’t you read the subtext?
Clearly the fact that you are ignoring,
Is that you are boring,
You have resting bitch face,
They never liked you in the first place.”

Pushing away for protection,
At the slightest detection of perceived rejection.
The here and now is my life preserver,
When I’m able to be the silent observer,
I’m able to stay and not get carried away.
I’m able to stay and not get carried away.

It is in this quiet space that I come to know me,
And the things the voice would not let me see,
Like how we are all connected,
And that it’s impossible to be rejected,
That the pain is self inflicted,
That I’m addicted.
But there is a solution.
It’s found through dissolution,
A complete divorce from my thoughts,
No more ifs or aughts,
Time to unmake,
Time to awake.