MEMORIES — they exist in a time and place unique to themselves. We all have a Memory, but none has exactly the same memories….for these small shards of time glisten only for those who have and hold them to their soul.
When you think about it, this Memorial Day in America is not the only holiday dedicated to our memories. New Years Day, President’s Day, Mother & Father and Fourth of July days are each a devotion to what and who has been in our lives. Not to mention the ultimate in memorializing: Thanksgiving and Christmas days.
So while I bear witness here to the power and purpose of each memory in my own life, may I offer this thought to my fellow memory-keepers. Is not the life of our city itself like some sprawling behemoth that shines in the lakeside sun, while shedding its skin with relentless continuity? And in doing so — whether by its neighborhoods graying or aging or changing or re-gentrifying — our city like all cities is forever leaving behind old memories and creating new ones?
I don’t know about you, but “new” this Memorial Day carries with it some pain as well as gain. Which is why my memories of another and younger Chicago occasionally singe. Like some of you, I can no longer walk the north and south lakeshore boulevards on which stout brick mansions stood in solitary pride versus today’s complexity of sleek squeezed condos….nor can I stroll the State Street that was once that Great Street before malls…and most searing of all, I can no longer walk my childhood streets and stores and schools and playgrounds, for they are either gone or re-populated.
Probably the behemoth that is our Chicago sheds its urban skins with more joy than remorse. Look, another new tower or parking lot! Other cities from Cairo to Athens to Rome to London seem more to reverence their pasts, for the people there can still walk in them thousands of years later. It’s the eternal dynamics of Change & Continuity being played out in different cultures.
However, this Memorial Day I may not be alone when I gaze back to relive so many of the lost lives and loves and yes localities that made this city and this day possible. I love what I see, but miss what I don’t. It’s the funny wondrous way memories work.
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