Things Change

They waited on a subway train. Down below the earth. Graffiti marked walls. Rats ran through tunnels. A scratchy voice rang out which train was approaching. Red line goes north, blue line to O’Hare, purple line to Evanston. Maps on the walls were color coded. Telling tourists where to go.

The two talked of old times. Long ago, years when they used to get off at Clark and Belmont and walk around the neighborhood at midnight. Gaslight, Duke of Perth, L&L Tavern, Sheffield’s, a three in the morning burrito at the Mexican joint under the El. The man and woman remembered the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot being filled with post punk rockers wearing leather and safety pin earrings, Doc Martin’s. Mohawks and green hair with tattoos on their arms. Dog collar necklaces.

It’d been thirty years since they’d seen each other. His hair was thin. She had gained weight. An awkward hug as the train came to them. She would go out to the suburbs. He would travel to Jefferson Park. They thought of each other on their journeys home. They swore they’d never grow up. Never have kids. Always go out on Thursday nights and go to work hungover.

Her train went north. Past Wrigley Field, billboards advertising candidates for office, up to Argyle where streets were filled with Asian joints, past Howard where they used to get Jamaican meat pies.

His train traveled west. Under ground then rising at Milwaukee and Damen. The heart of Wicker Park. The neighborhood Nelson Algren wrote about long ago. Once filled with Polish diners and bars, delis and shops. Now a gentrified nightmare. The hep celebrating a diversity that’s not diverse at all.

And they said they’d always be in love. Things change.

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