The Archeology of a Rolling Stone
When we finally moved out of the apartment we’d lived at in Wicker Park above Easy Bar after four years, Dana wanted some time in the space to just be in it. She spent her final night by herself, sitting on the floor, creating postcards and art and drinking some wine.
At first I didn’t understand. After a moment it hit me that this was our apartment. It was the first place we jumped into and made a home together as a married couple and thus had a certain importance for her and that she needed to just be by herself in the energy of the room, listening to the sounds of the street and the booming bass from the bar downstairs one last time.
When I took Matthew to the airport, him heading to Vegas to close on the new digs and leave me to coordinate with the movers and do a final painting and clean up of his house for eleven years, he got very quiet in the car. Then a gush of words as he tried to explain that, while he was fully looking forward to the new adventure, it suddenly hit him that he would never have this home he had made again. He felt sad and excited and felt a rush of memories — both good and bad — all associated with the specific location.
He confessed that he’d lived in two homes while in Chicago but this house was the one he nested in. Did I understand? he asked. In my thirty years here, I’ve lived in ten different places in ten different neighborhoods. So, no. Not really.
More specifically, not only have I not grown rooted in any one home in my life I don’t have much in terms of my personal archeology that I hold with much sentimentality.
A prop hat made for me for the 2012 production of Metaluna and The Amazing Science of the Mind Revue.
A smallish trunk that holds a variety of Christmas ornaments that go back to my childhood.
My grandfather’s praying hands Zippo that he carried during WWII.
A Carl Kassel doll from 2011.
A variety of pictures in frames (my mom, my dad, my sister and her kids, me with Leonard Nimoy and Michael Moore)
Posters in frames from the many shows we did back in the day.
A few signed books from Chuck Palahniuk and Henry Rollins.
Including things I cherish from my four years with Dana, my clothes, and my computing devices, I could fit everything in the world that holds any sentimental value to me in my Prius. All my photos are on iCloud (except the ones of pretty much any indication that I was ever with any woman before Dana which I deleted long ago) and it occurs to me that if I ever get old enough to slide into dementia, I’d have almost no record of my existence.
As she closed the bookstore she’s managed in Logan Square for the past two and a half years for the final time, she wondered aloud if her lack of sentimentality for the place was a problem. She pondered if she was missing something by not being nostalgic. Again, I don’t have much of an answer.
The closest thing I can say is that the connection to our first apartment (despite the crap landlord, the drafty-ass windows, the ongoing battles to get basic shit fixed and the incredibly high rent) is not about the space but about us. It was a place where we made memories together, made love, got drunk, had fights, long conversations about poetry and music and movies. The bookstore was a place she worked and that has less personal stake.
So, like my wife, I am spending my last few days in Chicago alone. Matthew is closing on the house in Nevada. Dana and Kelli are driving out together over a four day period with the cats (Matthew’s and Kelli’s). I’m here mitigating the move of the stuff, cleaning up the last bits of Matthew’s house for the new owners, and sitting on the floor of the city, making art and soaking in my last moments as a resident.
I’m not nostalgic for the place but I feel that tug of melancholy leaving behind the memories. Yet the best part about memories is that, at least until I get that delicious dementia, they come with me.