The band had just left the stage, but the fog that had descended from the north like some grand-scale special effect—right on cue with the final chorus of that last ballad, and suddenly, in the span of a few chords—had trapped the lingering melodies so that their resonant shadows expanded to fill the outdoor pavilion.
Trish adjusted her beanie and studied the crowd. She felt removed from the hugging, the intimate, inebriated grinning, and the capturing of Instagram-ready memories in the fog-diffused, brightly hued stage lights.
Her mom had suggested, in a long, worried email, that she and Uncle Garreth accompany each other to the concert: since ur both going thru some stuff and ur both down there in the city alone in ur dark basement apts and i would just feel better knowing that ur both getting out once in a while or ill start to show up randomly at ur door with mediocre banana bread and we both know u dont want that right honey?
So Trish had charged her phone and texted the number at the end of her mother’s email. And now, miraculously, she and Uncle Garreth were here at Millennium Park trying to penetrate their individual hazes and mostly not talking. But it was good to be out, if she was honest.
Just behind her Uncle Garreth was leaning against the concrete barricade and gazing into the distance. He was remembering a moment from a long time ago, when he had taken Trish to her second-grade Parent Night—or maybe it was third grade… or first… something around there—because her mom had been out of town again. That night in the gymnasium the PE teacher, a squat woman with a whistle on a purple lanyard, had put on an Enya CD and sketched out the broader physics of parachute manipulation. She laid out the multicolored cloth like a picnic blanket and pointed all of them to a nylon handle on the perimeter. Then, miraculously, after a few wavering ripples of the parachute, a dozen eight year olds and their assorted middle-aged companions managed to arrange themselves, guardian to child, underneath an inflated dome of billowing silk.
Garreth could still picture how the fluorescent light from the high rafters had filtered through the fabric overhead and cast shadows of red, blue, and green on all the giddy faces. In seconds the collected air had grown hot with their combined breath, but the humid closeness hadn’t bothered him. Then a much smaller Trish, sitting Indian-style to his left, had sternly pointed to the gap between them and said, “Uncle Garreth, you’re letting the air out! You have to sit right next to me.”
Now, with deliberate effort, Trish dug her iPhone out of her back pocket and stopped a man about her own age who was walking toward a nearby picnic blanket. “Could you take a picture of us maybe?” she asked. She looked back at Garreth and he moved to pose stiffly next to her.
“On the count of three!” said the young man. Trish draped her arm over Uncle Garreth’s should and leaned into him. She tried to arrange her face into a convincing smile. She knew her mom would want to see the picture later for proof.
As the man counted down, Garreth put his own arm around his niece and pulled her closer.
It was the end. Maybe not the very end, but 'an' end.
Every city has their ups and downs. The longer you visit, the more downs you start to notice.
Mahler's Resurrection Symphony
The salad bed in our garden
A connection revisited