News of my grandmother’s apparently pre-existing medical condition as well as the loss of not one but two very important personal friendships has driven me into a kind of emotional shiva. To make matters that much worse I have run out of cigarettes and the ghosts have begun to return. In an attempt to set myself back on some kind of proper mental course that I may eventually return from this Land of Sorrow with which I am so miserably familiar, I have gone on a search for my once ubiquitous but ever-mysterious guru and personal therapist, Gary.
My new residence in Logan Square has been chosen specifically to place myself in closer proximity to Gary, as well as to my rather ambivalent brother Matthew, my on-again/off-again lover/arch-nemesis, and my favorite ghost. I had been looking for him for at least a week in all of the places I knew Gary to inhabit. I have searched the strip clubs of the west side, even the back rooms, even the bathrooms. I have searched the worst of the worst dive bars, the most disgusting and piss-rivered of alleys. It was on the last day of my search, when I had abandoned all hope to myself and taken simply to stumbling slightly drunk and on the verge of tears through the streets of Logan Square to avoid the prospect of my cavernous new apartment that I found him. He was sitting exactly where I should have found him, perched above the boulevard on top of an abandoned railroad overpass, his legs swinging over the side in a pair of dark brown trousers. I did not waste time wondering how he had gotten up there, what he was doing or where he had been. I found the nearest foothold I could and scuttled up the side and sat beside him, swinging my legs over also, while hipsters on bikes and policemen strolling the beat looked up curiously but did not tell us to come down.
We sat in silence for a while. He picked at the knee of his trousers. I waited for an explanation but he offered none. I tried a few of the old “how are you? what are you up to?” lines but Gary has never been one for anything but business and he just pursed his lips and shrugged his shoulders loosely in reply. Finally, I let out with it. I told him everything, like how I don’t know what I want, who I want, what I’m supposed to be getting out of any of the relationships I’ve put a lot of work into, why my friendships are so new and yet so much more important to me than the time-honored ones, why I’m such a shitty daughter/sister/granddaughter/cousin/niece/etc., why I never call, why I can’t get as drunk as I used to even when my tolerance seems to have gone down, why sometimes the sky scares me, why I keep seeing people from my old lives when they have no logical reason to be there, in those places, why after I rescued that little boy from getting hit by a CTA bus I was so mortified that I had nightmares of children getting hit everywhere when I wasn’t looking even though the kid and his mother as far as I know are still very much okay and why goddamn it nothing seems to be working. He took it all in, nodding his head gently or seeming to, maybe it was the wind. When I finished, I burst into tears, asked if he had a cigarette and he gave me one wordlessly. I wept a while alone alone alone, and it dropped through my curiously swinging legs onto the pavement below, onto pedestrians’ heads, and they yelled “hey!” but did not press further, they continued on.
“Damn it, Gary, say something!” I demanded, wanting to shake him, not knowing what to do.
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” he said evenly, quietly. “But I’m not exactly sure who you are or what you’re doing here. I don’t really know what you want me to say.”
He turned back to the front and stared off casually. I sat beside there for a while, swinging my legs. It took me a long time to climb down.