The Rose-colored Velvet Loveseat - Part Two
She was crazy about the city. The clatter and hummed cacophony, the hot smell of buses, cars, the El, and doorway cafés, stolen hours at the Art Institute, stolen meals at the Midnight Jewel.
She imagined herself a sort of pioneer, only backwards...Leave the contents of desks and drawers, the potted geraniums on windowsills. Begin your travels from a quieter, slower, western place. A place where the reason for waking up before anyone else - or maybe never even going to bed at all - is because by 6, the sky is already the clearest, thickest blue imaginable. A blue you could fall into. Just lay on your back and look up. Breathe deep, catching gulps of wind, dirt, piñon. In the foothills, in the valley, in your yard; it's all the same. A blue you can get lost in.
They say at higher altitude, out west, the air thins. She knew that was wrong, some sort of miscalculation formulated by someone in a closed in space. Someone scribbling notes and equations as they breathed the permanently recycled air locked in the building with them. She found herself traveling toward the true drawn, thin air, further east, where buildings were constructed of metal and glass instead of - face it - mud. The city's suburbs were different; someone had once tackled prairie, mountains, even desert, as muse and revelation. But the catenary of the the lakeshore craved height for balance, and the architects of the city proper were quick to capitalize. The city's heartbeat had her mesmerized. And she had a story. She was looking for adventure. Looking for herself. Eastward bound. A pioneer.
And yet. In an achingly halcyon, long ago summer, romance met reality.
The rose-colored velvet love seat was more comfortable than the tattered sleeping bag on the floor in the bedroom. Even with no pillow, even with no throw, it seemed cozy; it held the heat of the day long after the last strains of Good-bye Pork Pie Hat drifted through the open window on a cool lakeshore breeze. She had intended to eat something earlier. Maybe run out for Greek, just up Halsted, but the letter - 7 pages, both sides, typewritten - made her forget. She really should have left it in the box, Return to Sender, or thrown it away unopened. Passersby below (she was on the third floor) looked up, saw only a dark and empty window. She thought she could steel herself. She thought she possessed an iron core. Instead she cried far into the night.
First light, the crack of dawn, night breeze turned morning; "sleeping" on the love seat was a habit that would long follow her. But now she was nearly late. Down the block she ran, past sidewalk marks - Latin Eagles are now (apparently) Eating Bagels - and it's-time-for-supper-the-night-before abandoned and forgotten toys. Around the corner early risers - or had they walked the streets awake all night, too? - called out their "Hey, pretty mama"s and she flashed them each a quick and rueful grin. It wasn't their fault. The doors of the corner bakery where she worked were already propped open to let some of the inside heat out. "Hey," she called, " I made it."