On those rare nights that I can sleep, I find myself in a world that continued on from what was. I see in my mind the glowing beacon. I walk the streets in an idealized version of what was before. I feel a joy that does not exist in the world anymore as I look to my side and see Jordan there. He is so still so strong and the years that came did not diminish his rusty red hair, nor did it dull his shining green eyes. With him by my side I am whole again and barely even notice the gaggle of other friends surrounding us, friends that are now long lost. I walk the streets of old Chicago and hear the roaring hum of the el-trains. Jordan grabs my hand and pulls me closer and we walk sided by side, I feel the smooth metal of his titanium wedding band around his finger. My mind even in this state of unconsciousness struggles against this illogical reality, and my hand reaches towards my neck, finding nothing there.
It is euphoria and I find myself feeling that this is right, this is how it should be, and for one brief moment I forget that things are different. I feel life turned out how it should have instead of how it did. We walk aimlessly for what seem like hours but what is time in a dream. Suddenly I find myself mysteriously at the bean looking into the reflection and all I see is myself. I look back around and see Jordan by my side still holding my hand and people all around us. I look back at the bean and my eyes are drawn back to me in the reflection. Drawn to the necklace that is around my neck, a small braided rope necklace with a ring embedded in it, and instinctively know it is Jordan's ring.
My focus pulls back and I see buildings in the distance that I should not be able to see in the reflection of the bean. Downtown is fully light but there are dark areas in the near surrounding areas. His view pulls back further and he sees the areas known as Lakeview and Wrigleyville in ruins, nothing standing where Wrigley Stadium stood for over a century. In the near distance I see a flag set of flags flying, the bottom is the flag of the city of Chicago, the middle is the newish flag of the Great Lakes Province, and the highest is the flag of Canada.
I feel an inescapable urge to touch the bean, and reach my hand out towards it. I am barely aware of the world around me, hardly noticing Jordan's screams for me to just stay where I am with him. My heart aches as I continue to reach forward my finger touches the bean. I feel the cold hard metal as I touch it and then feel it give way. It ripples like a pond the has had a rock thrown into it. I feel my finger go into the metal and I know that I am leaving behind my blissful fantasy world. Jordan still gripping my hand as I am slowly pulled up. I scream to him that I will always love him as I let go of his hand and disappear into the bean.
I jolt myself awake as always when I have this dream, soaked in sweat. Like always I am alone and feel the hole in my soul again. I reach for my necklace and I am soothed by the fact that I still have his ring around my neck. After the initial panic I catch my breath, and start sobbing like a baby, like always. I stop after a half an hour and it feels like my eyes have dried up. I sit in the darkness and flashes of my life past race through my mind. I see Jordan in most of these flashes, and am left with tinges of loss and regret. I stand on my balcony as dawn breaks, as the sunlight reaches my body I feel a strange sensation. I feel an emotion that I have no idea where it came from or how it came to me. I feel hope and it is the thing that scares me most about this night.
Anyone who is my age or older can break their lives into two easy parts, the before and the after, with most of us living somewhere between the two. The before is how it used to be, and the after is when we let our country fall about, and the chaos afterwards in what we have let our country become. In the early hours after dawn think back and realize I was so oblivious to it all. You could say that was typical of someone in their mid twenties. I was too worried about my own issues. I was too worried about what might happen instead of what was happening. I knew that the marches and protests were going on but I honestly just couldn't get myself to care. I was too worried about my career, and the little time I had left after all the extra hours I was worried about spending as much time with Jordan as I could. Somewhere deep in core I foolishly think that somehow if I had noticed what was going on that I personally could have stopped it. That Jordan and I could have been the great heroes that kept the United States together. Imagine it, a banker and a lifestyle writer, saving the world, but it is a nice fantasy to sometimes slip into.
After I pack and get dressed, I flip on the television. I watch some inane innocuous morning programming as they break to a live story downtown about a small car wreck and how it's backing up traffic, my mind drifts as soon as I see the breaking news logo. So much of what happened came to us is breaking news on our television. I remember sitting in our Lakeview apartment as we saw the news about the EMP blast that took out a majority of the east coast and throughout large chunks of the Midwest and west coast, thinking to myself how lucky we were to have escaped the communications blackout most of the nation faced.
I will never forget how lost I felt as they broke into their breaking news to tell us about the attacks on the capitol. How glad I was that Jordan was there by my side. I started to realize that all my hours trying to snag the best buzziest tag line were all for naught. I cried as I learned of the death of the president that I didn't vote for and that the vice president was missing and presumed dead as well. I realized how fucked we were when they went on scene at what was the Capitol Building. The news compared it to Pearl Harbor and the September 11th attacks but you could tell that this was the beginning of something different.
I pull myself out of my past and bravely try to brave my future for the day. I walk to my el stop, dragging my luggage for my trip along, glad to be part of the cacophony of the city. As I get close I see the train in station and join the others rushing to the train. The running in the crowd flashes a memory. I am running with Jordan in the crowd as we hear gun shots in the distance. Not just one gun going off but return fire. I can only vaguely remember what happened then, even my memories having a vague sense of shock to them. I can't hear what is going on. I am vaguely also aware that my real body has made it into the train, rushing back to reality as the train starts up again.
The woman behind me bumps into me, a small bump but it brings me back to that day and my past. In my mind I feel Jordan push me to the side and out of the way as a flash goes off in the window of a small cafe we are next to. I still can't remember anything after that except for seeing Jordan's limp hand sticking out of the rubble. I remember seeing his ring on his hand, knowing that he was gone.
I don't remember pulling the ring off of his finger, nor do I remember anything about that day after that. I desperately try to pull myself out of the funk that I am in. I gain an odd strength by grabbing hold of my necklace, and I look around at the faces of my fellow passengers, noticing that anyone old enough to remember how things were has the same glazed over look in their eyes. The same look that any moment their emotional walls could come crashing down and the tears would just fly out. I realized then and there that we may have survived but we all lost a bit of ourselves.