The History Leading Up to You, in a Picture

Dear son,

Today, my work found me on the 42nd floor of Two Prudential Plaza in downtown Chicago. I snapped a photo at the beginning of the day to post on social media. (It’s this thing we humans do, to pause our lives for a moment to snap a photo and share it, so we can show everyone just how interesting our lives are. I’m sure you’ve noticed.) (Also, it’s a way to draw attention to your line of work, and hope to engage more customers. I’m sure you’ve noticed this too.)

Looking back on the photo later today, I noticed there are a lot of landmarks in the photo from my 12 years thus far in Chicago, and some even before that, moments that led to you.

One of the buildings on the right is the former Blackstone Hotel, the place I stayed on my very first visit to Chicago, in May of 1998. Somewhere over there, a little south, is the Essex too, where I stayed on my second visit, about the same time a year later. I saw Star Wars: The Phantom Menace that night.

If I’m a good dad, you will not have seen this movie when you read this.

That roadway down the middle of the street is Columbus Drive, the starting and end points of the Chicago Marathon. I ran one marathon a few weeks after your mom and I moved in together, and another a couple of years later with your Aunt Susan. Your mom has a really embarrassing story about chasing me around the city and a clothing mishap she had, but she will probably never, ever, ever tell you that story, or let me share it with you, because there are stories children shouldn’t know about their mothers.

Soldier Stadium is in there. I’ve down two races that have started and ended there, one with your Aunt Susan, and another with your Uncles John and Jason.

Grant Park is there too, where I was the night Barack Obama was elected in 2008. There was so much hope for the country and the world at that moment, and I can only hope as I write this we’ve returned to something close to that by the time you’re reading this.

Somewhere on Michigan Avenue, to the right, is where I was when your mom texted me, and I had a hunch I would come home from teaching class that night to be told she was pregnant with you.

Bonus: Down in the lower right is the park where you had your first Easter egg hunt. You had no interest in the eggs. We just played in the park with Danielle and Brian and Sebastian.

It’s funny, I don’t make it to downtown Chicago much these days, maybe once a week or every couple. I don’t really think of a lot of my history being there, but looking at this picture, there’s a lot of me there, and so, a lot of you.

I can’t wait to share this view with you, or one like it, in person with you one day.

Love you, kid.

– Your Dad


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