Hopefully, Not the Last Trip to Chicago

On our last trip to Chicago, my mother and I left uneasy. This was the year of deceit, of painful lies and half truths. I had been lying about everything from my school attendance to my relationship with an older girlfriend. These lies reached a climax with mom snooping through my emails. Finding out about all the lies caused me to run away from home, and us not speaking for a long period of time. But, dawn still came, and we started to speak again, slowly at first, then reaching a period of semi-normalcy. This is when we decided to go through with our trip to Chicago.

Growing up in South Bend, IN, I live only roughly 90 miles from Chicago. My mother and I traveled many times to the windy city; often visiting the many museums. Mom noticed my increased interest in the Art Institute of Chicago, which was free on certain days of the week. It should come to no surprise, since I’m the only real artist in the family. These trips were full of joyous memories. But on the last trip, the final trip before I went off to school in Bloomington, and would no longer be under the supervision of my parents, things felt different. My mother realizing the decisions I was most likely to make, and I realizing the disapproval she felt for those decisions. But soon, I would be alone in a different world, one where I could choose to no longer attend church, and no longer was obligated to live the commandments. I would finally have the freedom I desired so much. The freedom that would only damage my relationship with my family more. The freedom that would enslave my soul. The freedom I desired so much. My mother and I look at each other, each knowing the other knows this possible future, neither knowing what actually was to come.

We rode in the car listening to a mix CD I had made; making small talk. “I really like this one,” she’d say. I’d proceed to tell her details about the song and band that she would never remember. We made it safely and started with the Art Institute. When I was younger, I would walk with her hand in hand; now we roamed the museum separately, choosing a time and place to met up. We started together on the basement level, stunned by the Ansel Adams photography exhibit. Then, slowly, we drifted apart.

At linner, a term we came up with to describe the meal between lunch and dinner, we sat at opposite sides of the table. I ordered a pizza, she ordered a salad. There was an unspoken agreement that she would eat some of my pizza. But she would also pay for the meal, so I couldn’t complain. When we had left-over pizza, Mom decided to trek back to the car as I sat and enjoyed some free jazz at the Art Institute Café and Lounge. She made the sacrifice, as I sat merrily. When she finally joined back up with me, I wanted to live it up. So I got an $8 dessert. I paid this time, and was disappointed at how small it was. I spent good money, but when spent in the wrong place, the rewards will leave you wanting more.

The drive back was quiet. There was some talk about how we both agreed that this was a good thing. Underneath these words was an agreement to not allow our differences to destroy our relationship. We both silently understood this was the start of a new year. The year of acceptance.

Epilogue

It’s been almost a year since that final trip. Now, living back home again, my mother and I plan another trip to Chicago. With the thought of my brother being home again all summer, my mother stated, “I’m going to miss our little moments together.” So, to ensure at least one memorable moment this summer a trip to Chicago is necessary. Our relationship is the strongest it has ever been. Partly due to the fact that after three years of Atheism, I’ve finally accepted Jesus Christ as my Savoir, and more specifically, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as Christ’s Church. I’ve realized, despite my best effort, the greatest rewards in life do not come from $8 desserts, but rather from a priceless divine source. Our relationship is stronger partly due to realization that freedom comes with responsibility; and what seems like a free lifestyle will actually enslave you. But, the strength in our relationship is mostly due to the year of acceptance; the knowledge that no matter who I am, I will be loved. When I dropped out of school, my mother allowed me home. And when I struggled to find a testimony, my mother supported me all the way. And when I stopped going to church entirely, as much as it pained her, she allowed me to be me. These past couple years have been difficult, but no matter how far apart we grew, we always had a meeting place. Although neither of us knew when and where this place was, we both knew that when the time came, we would know. And we did.

The End

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