Note: 22nd Century Media ceased publication as of April 2020. At the time, my column was submitted but never made it to publication. I share it with you today as the last in my City Girl Confessions series.
I’ve had the honor of being your local columnist for six years. Every day, I’ve woken up feeling extraordinarily blessed to live here and write about living here. I love the picturesque lakefront, our local shops, and the people- the people make this town extraordinary. I don’t take any of this for granted.
Over the past six years I’ve shared my life through stories and there have been plenty of wild rides: a new baby, a move to a new home, a few basement floods, parenting milestones, personal accomplishments, passing of a beloved dog, and a hyper focus on the goings-on of our town.
Yet today, I’m tasked with connecting with you on a whole new level. As the state of Illinois remains on lockdown and strict social distancing is mandated, I’m searching for the words to somehow bring us together. So here goes.
A story that I’ve been sharing a lot lately is one that takes place back in 1987. I was six-years-old and had just learned that my dad had lost his job. At that age, I don’t think I recognized this struggle- to my young mind, ‘losing’ a job seemed to mean that my dad misplaced it. What I remember from that time is this: pure adventure. You see, when my dad was unemployed, it meant that he was present every morning at the breakfast table. It meant that he was there to greet me when I walked in the door from school. He was accessible, and that was the most joyous thing a kid could want. I don’t ever remember the trauma or stress of that time, though I now recognize there was plenty. What stayed with me was the adventure of it all.
If you are in need of uplifting news, I have plenty to share. The birds have started chirping and their subtle songs are magnificent. Tiny yellow and purple flowers are coming up through the dirt (shoutout to neighbors who planned ahead with tulips- I can’t wait to see them). People are waving hello- through windows, through cars, from 10 feet across the street, on FaceTime, on Zoom, via text, and even TikTok (think mini music videos).
Children keep growing, learning, and moving through childhood. My son recently finished the entire Calvin & Hobbes comic series, and he was so moved by this great story that he shed bittersweet tears. His little hand signed the last page, dated it, and wrote out the very last sentence for emphasis: “It’s a magical world Hobbes ol’ buddy…let’s go exploring!”
Even in our darkest times, tiny joys abound. Stories continue to be told. Songs keep being sung. Babies keep being born. The Earth keeps rotating. The sun keeps rising.
I have found that in the past four weeks, I’ve put away my phone for long stretches of time and felt happiness in doing so. I have found that homeschooling is not at all easy but a loose schedule helps. I found that our local shops are doing everything they can to serve us in new capacities. I have found that we are tougher than the tough times we face.
When we stay home, we stay safe and hopeful. In this struggle, we are not alone. We are united. We are going through this and we will get through this.
A personal note: This is not how I expected to leave you. My heart is broken is recognizing that our small-but-mighty local media is no more. But I thank you for the years of storytelling that have bonded us together. In these most uncertain and upsetting times, we are still a community. It is okay to find a smile or a laugh. It is okay to find solace in something. Down the road, some time in the future, when we are on the other side of this, we will open our front doors, walk out into the sunlight, and greet each other with such happy, joyous celebration. We will make food, pass around drinks, sit together, and share stories of what this time taught us, what it was like, what we felt. We will get to that place. We will. And when it happens, it will be magnificent.