States, part 2

Okay, so like, this “visitors” thing is making me feel like a visit to the states is approaching like a meteor, and by that I mean I will either collide with it imminently or explode it to pieces.


And I’m not really in the mood to interrogate it, so instead, I just want to tell you about some things that I miss in the States.


As it turns out, though I wrote about it at length, it would seem that The Bar at the End of the Universe is getting sold, and I’ve been wondering what will be left by the time I do eventually go back. The list gets shorter everyday, but there are a few left.


And hopefully they’ll still be left by the time I eventually arrive.


Handlebar

You prolly wouldn’t take me for someone who makes a vegan restaraunt their local, but that’s exactly what we did in Chicago. I don’t even remember exactly how it happened, but I remember already frequenting it when my 38th birthday rolled around and I elected to go after getting tattoos with my girlfriends. Speaking of tattoos…


Taylor Street Tattoo

I have had a couple of ideas on deck that I swore I’d take to Taylor Street as soon as I got home from Johannesburg in February of 2020. That didn’t happen. But I’m still, to this day, saving the face of my left forearm for a specific piece I’m dying to get there. And if my next visit coincides with Friday the 13th, all the better.


Bernice’s

My local in Bridgeport barely made it through the pandemic, only kept afloat by two successful GoFundMe campaigns that covered the mortgage, bills, and the liquor license. I’ve spent way too much time perched on one of Bernice’s stools, which is insane when you realize I only even went for the first time in like…2018. It’s been just shy of four years, but it feels like home.


Knee Deep

Do I already have a dress from Knee Deep that I’ve only worn once? Look, that’s not the point. The point is that every single time I go in there, I find something I can’t live without. This happened the last time I went, in November of 2019, and that dress is in my bag right now, here in Belgrade. And I love it.


Lake Michigan

Imagine it’s summer, it’s probably about 90º, and you and your besties are pounding White Claws by the museum, next to the lake. I imagine this about every other day.


Target

Look, any Target will do, but the one that has popped up in my literal dreams is the one on Jackson. I used to go there up to five times a week, sometimes only to buy one thing. One time I went drunk and bought a $40 toothbrush. I threw that toothbrush away, finally, in Albania, tired of carrying it around without the ability to buy replacement heads for it. It was bound to happen, and I have no idea why I bought it in the first place, but that’s just how Target works.


And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but all of these places are in Chicago. San Francisco and New York have long faded from my memory. Even Austin feels foggy these days, and as soon as The Bar at the End of the Universe sells, Seattle probably will too. 


But Chicago is vivid in my mind and I fantasize about it daily. In the States, it’s the closest I have to a home, and I know it better than Jozi, and Istanbul, and even better than right here in Belgrade.


I miss all of it and everyone in it, especially now that it’s getting cold, and I miss that feeling of having your mettle tested, of bracing yourself against the snow and those winter, white-knuckle drives to the airport.


And I thought of this a few days ago when I dragged myself away from work, finally, and up to Makedonska to buy everything I’d need for winter. And I bought a pair of boots, and a coat, and new tennis shoes, and all I could wonder was what boots Callie and Cara and Yo would be wearing this year. 


But it’s a trip, because as much as I am Chicago As Hell, I wonder if I would be happy building a life there, or anywhere.


But I really do miss all of you in it. Every one of you. Every day.



–M 

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