Right Now and a Memory

August 3, 2014, 1:30 am
My infant son is sleeping fitfully next to me. I find that every time he stirs or struggles, I am roused, awakened. Maybe it’s a curse for all parents—this worry about everything that could happen. Terrible things flash through my mind of all the ways he could be hurt or worse. So, when he stirs, I do too, and now I am awake.
He woke me up at one, am straining and fussing for a nipple that wasn’t there. I can only guess that, in his baby mind, breasts just appear from out of his slumber, filled with warm milk…so he always surfaces from his sleep—usually not fully—looking, searching for it, eyes closed, grunting and turning his head this way and that. He’s begun to strain so much he inch-worms himself in his little co-sleeper. He’ll end up perpendicular to where he started, just his head in his bed and the rest of his body in ours. Or worse still, one night he came rolling into me while I was asleep. He only did that once, and, as far as we can tell, he’s not actually rolling yet, but this is just one more thing to worry about—he, swaddled, rolling over, and, because his arms are pinned to his side, being unable to hold himself up.
Hence I don’t sleep well.
So I’m lying here, unsleeping, remembering. I remember this:
This really happened:
I’d driven to Chicago from Ann Arbor. It was summery, and the city held on to the heat. Even after the sun went down the pavement released its trapped heat of the day, and the buildings and smog cradled it, holding it: a muggy, Midwestern summer.
Nighttime, we set out walking. I don’t remember now if we had a destination or if we were aimless. But we walked for hours. We ended up in a place that felt to me, someone unfamiliar with the city, as the edge of town: factories, train tracks, warehouses. There was a chocolate factory there that my Chicago friends knew about.
As we got close, the smell of chocolate took over the night. The sky glowed pink with the lights of the city. Chicago isn’t ever truly dark. The factory was silhouetted black against that pink, and in front of the factory, parked on the train tracks that bounded the factory, was a train car.
A long tube or hose stretched from the car into the factory. The car was pumping its goods into the factory to be processed, but coming out of the top of the car and then falling back down like snow to coat its roof and the ground around it was sugar: sugar falling like snow. How could we not climb the ladder up, dance in the falling sugar, eat handfuls, not caring that our hair and insides of our shoes were sticky, not caring that we were covered, like the top of the train car, in sugar?
Afterward, buzzing and sticky, we went to the river. A bridge went over the river with several lanes of traffic for cars. But the bridge also had a pedestrian walkway with places where we could crawl down underneath the bridge and sit on the platforms made of girders. From these nests, we could hear the whir and thump of traffic, and we could watch the boats with their points of light guiding them under the bridge.
We breakfasted at IHOP at six am and stumbled back to the apartment in Logan Square where we fell asleep in our clothes with sugar still in our hair.


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