Letting Go

Sitting on the table Kitty looks over her shoulder.   Her fully dilated eyes follow every move the little dog makes.   I have no worry about what Zeus, the dog, is up to.   A glance at Kitty tells me exactly where he is.  I sit on the couch, trying to write.   Zeus comes by, dancing on his hind legs, pawing the air.   His short legs can’t make the jump to the couch but I reward his effort scooping him up with one hand and placing him on my lap.   Kitty glowers at me, shocked that another animal has taken her place.   I fluff the dog’s ears and scratch his belly.    Then with a look of apology to Kitty, I place him back on the floor and toss a little ball for him to chase.   Kitty jumps into my lap, reclaiming her territory.  

My territory is changing, as if I ever really had any claim on anything in the first place.  I made my list of all the things I need to do to get ready to move to Arizona.  And as things go onto the list, I pause.   Do I really need this?   Do I really need that?  And it surprises me how easily I am letting things go.  The TV is old, the couch is beginning to sag, and the hall table wobbles.  This big move is getting smaller and smaller every day.   It’s as if I am standing in a tunnel with motion sensor lights.  The hallway is lit ten feet around me.   Looking backward is only gloom, but looking forward is the promise of more light.  I choose to step forward.  But to step forward, to gain more light, I have to let go of where I am.   With each step, the light behind me disappears and the way forward blooms.  Like Kitty I look over my shoulder from time to time, not to reclaim anything but rather to let it go. 

Walking around the city, I understand this is all I have ever known.  Strolling along State Street, looking in the Macys windows, catching the snowflakes on my tongue, the cinnamon caramels at Caribou Coffee – these are things I will miss.  With a laugh to myself I remembered how irritating it was when Marshall Field became Macys.   How aggravating when White Sox Park became the Cell and Willis took over Sears Tower.   In the long run, those changes were meaningless.   Leaving a marriage, moving from the suburbs to the city, now those were changes.  A change of jobs, a change of career, that’s the way to shake things up.   Stepping outside the box, getting out of your comfort zone, I laughed again as I thought it’s all about location, location, location.   

A crowd gathered around my favorite street vendor, Puppet Bike.   Puppet Bike always gets my dollar.   The puppeteer sits inside a wooden box atop a bicycle and manipulates hand puppets behind the handcrafted stage.  There is no story line and the puppets do not speak.   Worn out Daniel Striped Tigers, leftovers from Mr. Rogers (one is even missing a button eye) dance around to boogie woogie and big band music much to the delight of the audience.  

It was a classic Christmas card scene.  Holiday lights and evergreen swags hung from the buildings, the Salvation Army bells were ringing.  Juicy snowflakes sprinkled the holiday crowd like powdered sugar sifted on pound cake. The children were bundled in pastel snowsuits and little animal hats with ears, the tips of their noses tinged pink from the cold. Tiny mouths, frosty with breath, opened as wide as their eyes while parents snapped pictures.  I imagined the puppeteer sitting inside the box, enduring the cold for the pleasure of these suburbanites.   They needed a push.   I pulled a dollar from my pocket and held it up to the little Tiger puppet who took it with great flourish.   The puppets played a little tug of war with the dollar before dropping it down behind the stage.   The little puppets bounced, danced, bowed and waved to me in appreciation.  I waved back and that was all it took for the children to start asking “Mommy can I give the puppet a dollar?”   I walked away secure in the knowledge that I had started an avalanche of cash for the puppets, a little good-bye present from me to them.  And with that, the city felt behind me.

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