Friends like hammocks

October 24

The difference is like that between falling into a groove cut exactly to fit you and sitting patiently on your knees at the edge of a stiff heap of clay to slowly carve and mold a new one to fit you. To not have to think about whether you’re talking in English or Urdu, to have a list of people to refer to and wonder and ask about, where is he now? When did she decide to go there? To have a few years of memories together so that hanging out is kind of like chilling out on a hammock. It’s easy. Old friends are like old jeans - the more worn-out they get, the better they fit and the more you love them.

So I went the entire weekend without touching a book or notes or an assignment. Grad school is about priorities.

You can’t let work get in the way of going to Chicago because those opportunities just don’t come by the dozens. Kind of like trying to find someone who is going to the Indian store. You just have to put it first. And am I glad I can make the right choices because Chicago is beautiful. It’s got the tall buildings with cleaners balancing on tiny planks high up scrubbing shiny glass windows to make them even shinier (they looked like little Spidermen), it’s got a river and bridges that rise up to let boats pass through, kind of like a domino effect, or maybe like a series of salutes. There are protests around the corner with trumpets and caped men, high school students trying to dance near a massive fountain without any water and a man trapping dreams and lights in soap bubbles. Rainbows hang suspended in midair and then a child kisses the bubble and it bursts. Bring your soapy hands together and pull them apart slowly, creating slow little transparent circles, like a magician. Chicago is big and bustling with life but everybody seems to be in a good mood. It’s clean and the trees were yellow, red, green. Traffic lights smeared on the tops of branches, people offering to give you a boost on to a metal cow or take a photograph of you with your friends so you can be in the picture too. There’s so much to do and even if you decide not to do any of it, you can just walk around and count the number of institutes and colleges located in downtown.

It’s supposed to be a windy city but I guess since everything had to be perfect that Saturday, the weather was warm and the wind was a slight stir every now and then, a definite anomaly in late October. It was supposed to be freezing cold with a wind that wants your nose to break off from your face like an icicle from the roof of a cave in a very cold place – but since it was a perfect Saturday, I barely needed my coat. The deep-pan pizza was delicious, mushrooms and cheese that melts in your mouth, and Earl Grey to finish. I can put my boots up on a chair and discuss the perks of relationships with people who are not identical but just different enough that you become a fuller person with them. Sort of like jigsaw puzzles. You can’t fit two identical pieces together – they should be a little different but their contours should fit into one another so they make a more complete picture.

Because I have dementia, I find it easy to be happy. Green fields, shooting stars, blue beanies, windmills and rows of corn stretching into the distance – I’m easily impressed/awed/pleased and excited. Will I lead a happier life? Maybe. Is it because I forget all the cooler, more breathtaking things I’ve seen or because I realize that the highest of snow-covered mountains shouldn’t diminish the beauty of cornfields? I'd like to think it's the latter but then I guess it depends on whether I do have dementia or not...

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