To be honest, as we mini-vanned our way into gut of the city that Thursday night I could have cared less about the big buildings with their highfalutin, sweet potato lights shining down through the fog and making me think I’d fallen asleep in a bowl of casserole. We were bumpin’ Kanye’s Monster and Colin was rapping his heart out side by sonic side with the esteemed Mrs. Minaj when we sidled up to the curb outside apartment 2222 (every number had a buddy). The first face I saw was Rachel’s—bouncing down the sidewalk, smiling like her face wasn’t big enough for all the happy. And then Al, Spence, and Marie on the stoop each waiting with a gangster lean on a big stone frame and a firm handhug (in the case of Marie a real hug ‘cause who shakes hands with a girl?) that seemed to say, “Welcome back.”
You see, we Slash Piners and them Shotgunners (the press they started after we introduced them to the supreme fun of stitching was called Shotgun Press) had created a space all our own. And the trip to Chicago felt less like a journey to a foreign land and more like a return to this shared space that we carried around with us like a hamster ball (us, of course, being hamsters in said ball). As is customary, we frittered away the first night with a fine fusion of frivolity and foetry (shit, I mean poetry). The following day we made history live on radio and then rode a train in a catawampus circle. While aboard, I had Spence explain to me the finer points of eye contact etiquette as well as what to keep an eye out for whilst window gazing (apparently he’s seen a couple of folks in the nudie nude). The next day we combed the sidewalks, and I couldn’t help but notice the difference in pace between us Southern folks who are used to moseying through thick heat and the Chicagoans who walk with the wind. On our walk, Al and I bandied about the idea of getting an apartment together if I end up calling that place home, which is probably what’ll happen.
Before I knew it, it was time to leave. The only real mark I’d left on the city was a splash of spit on a pigeon’s wing and a nose smudge on gigantic, shiny bean. However, if the mark my presence left on them city folks was half the mark they left on me, then that would still be a good-sized mark as far as marks go. Seriously though, I feel such a deep connection with those people. Through getting to know them, I have realized just what a fantastic and instructive bond creative writing can foster. Perhaps because the act of writing can make us feel so isolated and the presentation so vulnerable that when these acts are shared and are the thread that binds a group of nutty little scribblers together, the trust and red, white, and blue lurve that develop run deep.