I used to live in Chicago. I know when people say they used to live somewhere you expect them to say it was for at least a year. It actually used to drive me nuts when you would hear someone say they lived some where for two months and they acted like an expert. Well, I became one of those people to an extent. I lived in Chicago for nearly five months. OK, like four months and a week, but it was such a difficult time in my life living there and it was an amazing experience, however, in the aftermath that I feel I'm allowed to say it was once a home. You just got to love that hindsight. I moved out there because not only did I just go through a difficult and stressful break up, but I also came as close to death as I ever thought I would be when a medication I was taking caused severe liver damage. Thankfully, the liver; being a miracle organ, recovered fine with no long-term side effects. Anyhow, I digress. I very much so needed a change. Both of my sisters and several friends already lived out there so I thought it'd be perfect.
Boy, I was not prepared for this move. I was not prepared financially. I was not prepared mentally. I was not prepared emotionally. I took the first job I was offered which turned out to be a marketing scam and cult. Side note to the unemployed: NEVER WORK FOR A COMPANY THAT SELLS INNOVAGE OR QUANTUM PRODUCTS! SCAM! OK, I got the Caps Lock moment out of my system. So after those three weeks of hell I ended up working in this cafe that was the bottom floor of my apartment building. I loved it. I really did. Working there stirs up nothing but fond memories despite how bankrupted I was from the cult. I gave out free food all the time and in return would get higher tips. Yes, pretty much stealing, but you got to do what you got to do. There was a friend I made, Amber, whom I have unfortunately lost contact with, which is bizarre to think of in this socially connected world we now live in. She would stay late and help me close just to be kind. We would sneak around to the back for smoke breaks and she even bought me a real nice journal. She made those nights worth it. I loved her and I miss her. She was so kind and I hardly knew anything about her. I hated when I closed without her there. Not because I got out later than normal but because I missed her. Ted, the owner, once tried to put me on an opening shift. I came in an hour late from over-sleeping and it was closing shifts only from there on out. I had a crazy sleeping schedule if I even slept at all. I would work maybe 5/6pm-12/1am six nights a week. I would usually go out to the bars, which I could not afford, but when you're broke and depressed you don't really think things through. Whether or not I went to the bars, though, I'd be falling asleep as the sun came up. I put blankets over the windows in my room.
I remember one time on a day off, my cousin Steve was in town. I had literally slept an entire day away. I believe I slept for 20 hours and missed several calls from my cousin. I did manage to meet up with him near the midway Airport on public transit. It's a bitch to get there from Rogers Park where I lived. Well, we got some food and had some laughs and I was eager to get back home knowing what an absolutely tiring ride home I had ahead of me. So, I rushed down the escalator stairs and even got annoyed by an older woman who was walking too slow. I got about 20 feet in front of the escalator and I heard the old woman scream. Little did I know that this scream would lead to my most profound moment while living in Chicago. She was the reason I needed to live there.
I noticed that the old woman I so rudely rushed past was blind and carrying several bags. She had fallen at the bottom of the escalator. I ran to assist, considering no one else around me cared. I helped her to her feet and she told me that a Metro staff member was helping her but just left without a warning. I asked if I could help her carry some of her bags and offered my arm for her to hold. She complied. What if I had been a thief? I soon discovered we were heading in the same direction, only her stop was two stops before mine. I helped get her to the trains and we took the same trek home. She told me how she used to live in Hawaii and that she was attending school to go into real estate. She was a beautiful older woman of about 55 to 60. She had a sweet and soothing voice and an incredible sense of humor. We made fun of people's conversations on the train. I no longer had to kick myself in the ass for sleeping so late that day and missing all those calls from Steve. Oversleeping thus forcing me to only close at the cafe had a purpose. I had to be there for her and she had to be there for me. It may seem like I was the Good Samaritan in this story but she had no idea that she was that to me. During a time in my life where I maintained little self-respect and lack of self-compassion this woman's blind faith in me restored and healed me even if just for that night. I wish I could remember her name, but I know I'll never forget her and our moment together.
Scott Joel Gizicki is just another one of those new Los Angeles residents that acts and enjoys writing as well. After being born and raised in Detroit, he finally made it 3,000 miles to the city he's always wanted to live in this past August. He hopes he can stand out from the crowd; at least a little bit. :)