Nightscapes and tiki dreams

A 6-foot-tall blonde white girl boards her bike outside a tiki bar in Logan Square. There’s a joke to be made but I don’t feel like making fun of myself tonight.

It’s a Sunday night in August, 11:30 p.m., Chicago — unseasonably cool. Summer fades like the miles before me. At the tiki bar, I rounded out the weekend with the last in-person conversation I’d have with a friend, that’s … well. Imagine the friend you can’t live without. That’s him.

Nights like these are to be savored. They’re the kind that stick out when you ask, “How long has it been since we last … ?” And it’s not the date or the drinks, the ambiance or the food. It’s the feeling. It sticks.

As I ventured home, riding down Kedzie Avenue, I got the elusive sensation of never wanting the rush of the ride to end. I wanted to linger in these fleeting moments of youthful movement. Two wheels against a hard city street. The cold breeze against my bare legs. I remembered how obstacles abound and death lurks behind the wheel of every car. I am responsible for each inch of street. I am designing my path with every thrust of air that hits my chest and rushes over my face. I feel powerful. Almost invincible.

The sounds of summer are waning past me. They’d be hummingbirds between flowers if the sun was out. But it’s almost midnight. I’m like a bat between tree lines.

As I cross the park, I can hear people talking so exuberantly about what sounds like absolutely nothing, and they’re laughing hysterically. I spot them sitting indian style in the grass and see that they’re close friends. A few tears dance off my cheekbones. Two more blocks to go, Jamie.

The lights are out on the boulevard tonight. I consider passing my house and living longer in this world. I look at the trees and imagine the bark absorbing the silence. It’s past midnight now. I conclude that I’ve seen all I should see.

I’m standing on my street corner with my handlebars in my hands and my feet on the ground. The stoplight has long turned green, and a Cadillac pulls up at the opposite side. The man inside has his windows rolled down, and he shouts, like a celebration of the night, just one word: “Beautiful!”

I repeat it out loud to myself, “Beautiful.”

I should say it more often. I should say it out loud so I never forget. This night, this city, my neighborhood, my life.


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