My Love, My Chicago, What Have I Done?

posted in: Chicago 10
It's like this today. It is exactly like this.
It’s like this today. It is exactly like this.

It’s really here: I’m in my final moments as a resident of Chicago. And I’m losing it.

I have 24 hours to tie up the move-out, then I give keys to “the gang,” a.k.a. the medical students who are soon going to be living in my home.

“Home” is a rich and achingly pretty word because within it, you have the “oh” sound, and oh, oh, oh, I am in pain.

After my divorce, I moved downtown. After all that turmoil and fear, I had to either leave Chicago forever or find a New Chicago. I chose the latter. I remember thinking, “Don’t throw the baby out, Fons. Don’t leave Chicago. You have a life here.” After living on the northside for ten years, the shift downtown was striking and did the trick: coming down here was absolutely like moving to another city but I retained my network and my knowledge of the place. Sure enough, in my New Chicago, I created an entirely new life. I had to.

I found a space that sang. A sunlit, wide-open, gem of a condo in the South Loop. It was love at first sight. When the realtor opened the door to what would become my unit (such a clinical-sounding term for a piece of my heart) I tried not to gape. Gorgeous. Wide. South-facing windows. Two bathrooms with these cool bell-jar-like light fixtures. One exposed brick wall. It was a doorman building with a rooftop deck. There was a garbage chute, too — and I dreamed of a garbage chute! There was an elevator and a mailroom and cleaners on-site. The best part: it was actually below my budget. After the darkness of my failed marriage, the impossible had happened: I was in love again.

One of the first things I did when I moved in was have a professional muralist paint a trompe l’oeil on the west- and south-facing walls. I wanted a faint, French drawing room panel motif over all that cream. The artist exceeded my expectations; the funny thing about art you paint on the walls, however, is that you cannot take it with you. So goodbye, mural.**

When I moved in, I had an ostomy bag. I don’t have one now, so the space saw me heal. It also saw me in grave peril last fall, when I was in the hospital every month for several months. The paramedics came for me just one time, busting in the door; usually I’d take a taxi up Michigan Avenue to Northwestern and check myself in — I even took the bus once — but that time, I was in so much pain, I couldn’t see. My home saw all that. It saw me come home thinner and depressed.

My home saw me foolish, that’s for sure. A collection of late nights, dubious houseguests, wine glasses, etc.; these are in the portfolio.

I wrote my book here. I made Quilty here. I dreamed a thousand things, made good on most of them. I fell in love here, too, and not just with the space. I mean that I fell in love here, with two different human beings. Yuri is one, and that’s all I’ll say about that.

I’m excited for New York City. Without question, saying yes to the love in my life, Yuri, this lion of a person, this force of nature, this is right. But today, as the sun glitters off the lake and the happy people of Chicago go about their merry ways, my heart is breaking. This is too hard.

I’m probably just crispy from the travel this week, emotional because dinner last night was a McDonald’s caramel sundae (long story.)

All my love, Chicago. Just know that you have it all.

* Visit my Instagram page (username: yomaryfons) for images of the mural. I’ll put them up shortly.

10 Responses

  1. Pam Pollock
    | Reply

    Change is hard! You are handling it so well. Congratulations on your new love!

  2. Pam
    | Reply

    You will have a great time in New York. I hope there are a lot of quilt shops in the city.

  3. Marilyn lowrey
    | Reply

    Mary….you inspire me! Your creative mind and soul is so unique and that heart of yours would always land in Love! Keep stepping Mary…because your path has many followers… I really care about YOU! Marilyn

    • Mary Fons
      | Reply

      Oh, Marilyn! We know each other from another time, don’t we? How is Ben?

      • Marilyn lowrey
        | Reply

        Oh, Mary! We do. Ben is my heart, but he still targets my brain!!! He completed a voluntary deployment at Bagram last November. A friend of his “from Chicago” was at Bagram too. It was a struggle . The glory of soldier life for Ben, was quickly challenged with 20 hour work days/7 days a week. The other “Chicago soldier” was there for much longer.
        Mary, I am so happy for you! That Yuri guy, better understand how damn lucky he is!!!!!!! Have fun in New York….. Ben and I enjoy all your Paper Girl thoughts…I’ll post a favorite Soldier picture of Ben, with his pecan pie from you…Keep in touch, please! Love from Marilyn…..FB pic!

        PS.. Ben married his college girlfriend, a week before his deployment. They had to postpone a September wedding . In two weeks in Coeur d’ alene, they will celebrate another Wedding celebration. Take care!!!

  4. Ruth
    | Reply

    You know, Mary, you could have two places…lots of people do. If it’s not possible now, you could put it on your wish list. Something to think about…

  5. Andres
    | Reply

    Kinda odd to write this while you’re on TV making fusible bias tape. Look, what can I write that won’t sound like a cheesy Lifetime made-for-TV movie? Your NY place will become your home; you’ll still miss Chicago. I still dream about ‘back home’. I might visit rarely (damn 15ish hour flight) but the minute I get off the plane I feel like I never left. I also daydream about the ranch where I lived a sizable chunk of my life, the place where my parents were supposed to live out their later years (oops, didn’t happen). Neither of those places are where I want to go after a long day at work.

  6. Ruth
    | Reply

    Mary I am praying for continued healing of your body, mind and heart. You are a very inspiring young lady.
    I had the priviledge of hearing you speak at the Kankakee Quilters meeting Thursday night. Thank you for sharing one of your passions with us even though you have had soo much on your plate. Cannot wait to hear and see more of you.

    • Mary Fons
      | Reply

      Ruth, the pleasure was entirely mine. Thank you for reading and for coming to the event! We did have fun, didn’t we?? 🙂 xo, Mary

  7. […] What have I done to my favoritest lover; Leaving like this, my purse grabbed in haste; Off to new visions and a new city’s cover, What a waste. […]

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