July 15, 2011: Marissa Flaxbart

July 15, 2011: Marissa Flaxbart

The bright sun in my eyes wakes me up. A narrow window in my bedroom allows the rising sun to line up precisely with my closed eyes on the pillow. Today, like on any brazenly sunny morning, I wake to the sensation of being blinded.

For the record, I am NOT complaining. I'm in love with the sun, I spent all winter and spring searching it out, facing it with my eyes closed, hoping for some warm relief from the chilled shade. Even now, when it hasn't been overcast for days and the shade finally offers relief from the heat rather than the other way around, I check to see if the sun's out through the oddly-placed windows at work, like I'm checking to see whether or not I can be happy. I am emotionally dependent on the sun.

I might not be alone. Outside, the restaurants are crowded with al fresco diners, the lake is full of boats like it's still the 4th of July and people are swarming Michigan Avenue. In the sun, the city itself seems delighted. I overhear three girls discuss whether they'd prefer to go to the pool or the beach. Everyone seems blissfully unaware of the brevity of our Chicago summer, the brevity we spend the rest of the year complaining about. No one says what's on my mind: It's July 15, and I'm already dreading the winter.

Every year it starts a bit earlier, this dread, a private promise that this will be my last Chicago winter before I pack it in and head for somewhere with weather a little less bi-polar. I can’t be the only one who goes through this annual ritual, can I?

Of course, I know that perpetual sunshine would be much less precious, that we Chicagoans live for our summers, and that the city’s sunny July extasy couldn’t exist if we didn’t have those gray winter doldrums. So I suck it up, close my eyes, and look toward the bright sun, which hasn’t hidden from me once today. I put on my sunglasses. I buy a straw fedora. I dip my toes into the icy water of Lake Michigan and forget every time but now.

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About the author: Marissa Flaxbart lives in River North. She writes for Gapers Block, blogs, and just made a documentary on showchoir. On Twitter, she’s @flaxbart.

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