The Best Summer Ever! – that wasn’t

The Best Summer Ever! – that wasn’t

The plans were hatched during the winter break. Summer 2020 was going to be the best summer ever. Two young women halfway through college were going to spend the summer in Chicago living on their own. The apartment belonged to one; her roommate would be moving out at the end of the semester. It was located just a few short blocks from Lake Michigan and about a mile and a half from the beach!

Her friend was from back home – New Jersey – and was at college in North Carolina, so they didn’t see each other much anymore. Unless you count all the FaceTime calls and snapchats and whatever else it is the kids are doing these days to stay in touch. This summer was going to make up for that! 

The calendar was beginning to fill up with concerts and other plans. And of course there was Lollapalooza, the four-day music festival in Grant Park they had been attending together for the last four years. Year five was going to be monumental they mused across cellular service more than 800 miles apart. 

One secured a job at a Chicago concert venue where the hours were limited, but the tips were excellent. And of course there were perks! Her friend was looking for a job in Chicago too, so there wouldn’t be too many financial limits on all they dreamed this summer could be.

I wasn’t privy to all the plans. I’m the mom of one. I had my own aspirations of what this summer could hold for my girl and her friend, and I was hoping that at times they’d let me crash the party – or at the very least, ask me to drive them somewhere. The only small piece of the puzzle was getting buy-in from the friend’s parents and I was willing to help with that. 

Everyone ignored the signs that 2020 was going to be different. I did deliver a bunch of paper goods, non-perishable food items and frozen dinners to fill her freezer at some point in February just in case this virus they’re talking about had her stuck in her apartment for two weeks.

By the week of March 8 though, COVID-19 was here. Their colleges were beginning to plan for online learning that would begin after spring break. The NCAA announced that the spring season for all sports would be suspended. She talked to her friend on Thursday evening. She played varsity lacrosse for her university and this left the team wondering how they would navigate their future as collegiate athletes.

That was the last time they would speak. In the early morning hours of March 13th, something went terribly wrong for seven college athletes. It would change their plans forever. Summer 2020, for my girl, would become something to get through. There was the weekend back in June when she imagined her friend would have arrived. There were dates of cancelled concerts; Lollapalooza weekend being especially hard. There was no job anymore. No FaceTimes. No snap chats.

Her new roommate moved in last week. I won’t be spending as much time with my girl in the city as I did all summer long. I’m usually one to hold on to summer for as long as I can. This year, I’m prepared to close the book on it now. Summer 2020 left us with a reminder that nothing is ever certain. “These uncertain times” are really all of the time. 

Still, we make plans and courageously move forward into the unknown.

One, moving forward. Navy Pier. Chicago, Illinois. July 2020.

The end of the beginning

The end of the beginning

I took off last week. From the blog, not work. I have some projects I’m finishing up which didn’t deserve to compete with the thoughts in my head. I wasn’t prepared to necessarily address that beginning on July 1, I will be unemployed again. Yes, unfortunately, my time with CARA comes to a pre-mature end next week. As the CARA Connection Newsletter states:

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There is no normal to which we can return

There is no normal to which we can return

As Week 12 came and went, so did the stay-at-home order in most states, including Illinois. Still a lot of things we can’t do, but a lot of restrictions lifted. The Chicago lakefront is still closed although when I was down in the city last weekend, the barricades blocking off Lincoln Park west of Lake Shore Drive were down and I could run unencumbered along those pathways. Today I went back to my office for the first time since March 13. The day Ann died.

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The time to act is now!

The time to act is now!

I’m not only white, I grew up in “Whitelandia” – a wealthy suburb of New York City where “diversity” was Irish or Italian with maybe a German or Polish family thrown into the mix. We were all white. We were at all Catholic. I didn’t even know anyone who was Black until I went to a Catholic High School in another county. Not sure I would have even made any effort to have a relationship with the few Black girls in the entire school if they weren’t my basketball teammates.

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