Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Circa 1984

for Mike

There was a time when we were so poor we had no debit card, no bank account. If we lost our token to ride the L we just jumped the turnstile. More than once we had to walk when the buses stopped running—miles from home. One time we were stranded at Cook County Hospital without a quarter between us to call a friend for a pick up. With our treat money we used to buy a quart of the cheapest ice cream and saw through the carton, splitting it in half. Going out to eat was getting a dollar slice at Uptown. We didn’t do that too often. Usually we shopped at the Freestore and ate donos, donated day-old doughnuts. On our day off we’d go to the No Exit CafĂ© off the Morse L stop for half-price coffee and bad poetry. We’d leave smelling like cigarette smoke. In the cold, crystallized air halos wavered around the street lamps, and we’d hold hands—so happy, so blessed.

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