I wanted someone to talk to that night. I wanted to break into conversation and discuss the mysteries of the world — the whimsy of people — the potential that I think every person has but no one ever seems to access. I wanted to dream about the importance of life with someone who understood the power of our existence and believed in the impact of one individual to another.
I knew all I had to do was show up at your door.
In your living room, time flew by. As you talked I wondered how you were able to be yourself every single day. It’s one thing to focus on the bright side but your enthusiasm was so blinding it blanketed me whenever we were close. You weren’t empty or ignorant, either. You identified the negative and despised it. You saw the world as it existed and you took action on the idea that it could be better.
I loved you for skipping small talk and being so unafraid to ask real questions. Best part being: it was never a challenge, it was simply an invite. You wanted to know. You wanted to engage.
As the evening wore on that night, I barely noticed the sun setting behind us. I remember walking from your house to a bar so dark it seemed only to glow with the glint of glazed eyes. We were different from them, Brian. You were different. In our conversation, one moment plays over in my mind. I can see only the angles of your face lit by the tiny candle on the table and you are laughing at some crazed theory I proposed to counter one of yours. And suddenly you stop, very seriously, and you thank me. You thank me for talking to you, for being your friend, and for taking everything seriously and all at once laughing at ourselves. In that moment, you made me different — you made me feel a bit like you. No matter how much time passes without you, I’ll never lose that gift or discredit its value.
Knowing that you’re gone now, I see our friendship from a third-party point of view. I cannot imagine that the man I trusted with every thought that crossed my mind can no longer sit across the table from me. But in the light of everything you believed, I’ll believe that you can still hear me. That if I want to talk to you, you’ll still be there listening.
I’ll remember you as the two of us never shutting up, our ideas colliding without ever losing steam. You building upon the simplest word and challenging my point of view. How freely you loved. How openly you celebrated.
I love you, I’ll miss you.
Chicago, by design, is incredibly diverse. Each neighborhood is distinct in its culture, its theme. A few weeks ago, I asked on Twitter — how do you see your neighborhood?
Below are Chicagoans’ responses in 140 characters or less:
@TheScumLord #NobleSquare: Burritos and a hardware store.
@keithanderson #LoganSquare where everyday comes new restuarants and coffeeshops full of beards and fixed gears.
@gopher33j Polish, old and friendly. #JeffPark
@onthefirefly #pilsen A friendly neighborhood that looks out for one another, and preserves that spirit with pride.
@bakerbakerbaker #WickerPark: Culturally rich in everyone looking at their phone and home of “that fancy Walgreens”
@observacious You take the good, you take the bad, you put them near the lake and there you have the facts of #edgewater
@little_katie #WestTown where families, young professionals and gang members can all live in peace bc the neighborhood changes zip codes
@LincolnSquared #lincolnsquare is a diaper bag full of hidden gems
@HackerHuntress #Bridgeport is swiftly-gentrifying art school dropouts and a strange preponderance of hackers and activists.
@shylobisnett #AlbanyPark brings together the most strikingly diverse collection of cultures and cuisines anywhere in Chicago.
@auntiesweetleaf #HumboldtParkThe Puerto Rican culture is rich, fierce, and fighting to survive. The restaurants are authentic.
"At the end of his performance Mr. Electrico reached out to the 12-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, ‘Live forever!’" He was at a carnival. It was 1932. Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."
Mr. Electrico is referenced in Bradbury’s novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes” as a more sinister carnival performer: the middle-aged man, turned young boy, turned 120-year-old man brought to life by electric chair. I realize this description makes no sense if you haven’t read the book. But it does make sense if you know that Bradbury is a wonderful genius.