Katie texts Pat just as we are finishing our food. “Katie say’s they’re stuck in traffic. They’ll be at least another hour.”
“Traffic? Coming into the city?” Noree asks.
“Probably more people coming in for the big welcome home bash for The Cubs. I told them to text me when they get close; we’ll have to let them into the parking area,” Pat responds.
The 5863 North Winthrop Air B&B that we’ve rented is in a brownstone that has six apartments on three floors. There is a front sitting room with a TV and a view of the street. The other front room is the study/spare bedroom that Pat and I have requisitioned. The spare room has an entry to a tiny, second floor balcony with some outdoor furniture which includes a pleasant little loveseat that I take possession of. Chicago is unseasonably warm and I am comfortable sitting in the shade in my jeans and long sleeve shirt. I may have dozed. In any case, time elapsed for which I have no recollection. Pat stuck her head out on the enclave. “They’re almost here,” she tells me.
“Great,” I say, heaving myself to my feet. My body revolted just before turning fifty-five. My feet, ankles and knees hurt nearly constantly, something they only used to do when I abused them. I feel betrayed by my own body but as there is no trade-in policy I make do. Pat goes downstairs to let Kevin and Katie into the back parking area. I wait in the kitchen rather than descending the rickety rear stairway. My knees do not show an appropriate amount of gratitude. They still hurt.
I have seen my son and daughter-in-law once since January. My little sister’s fifteen-year-old daughter died unexpectedly in April. Katie was pregnant then but was waiting until she was further along to share the news. When we converged for the funeral at my sister’s house east of Memphis Katie told my two brothers and sisters the good news as a way of expressing hope. Katie wasn’t showing in April but she is now! My wife has not seen Katie since January because Pat was out of the country when my niece died. Pat is not free with her emotions. Seeing Katie brings a big smile to her face.
We show the kids their room and sit for a moment in the living room. Katie giggles and points to her belly. “The baby’s kicking. Want to feel?” she asks me.
I do, so I do. It has been a long time since I’ve felt a baby kick. “The baby usually stops kicking whenever somebody other than Kevin or I put our hand there. Baby must know it’s you.”
I smile and say, “Must.”
Katie says ‘baby’ because Pat would prefer not to know the baby’s sex until after he is born. Katie and Kevin are trying their best to accede to this request.
We are all hungry and have decided to walk to a close by Irish Pub. It isn’t far, just down the street from Whole Foods. Our waitress is from eastern Europe. The food is typical bar fare; fine, but not exceptional. We all have fun and eat too much before returning to the B&B to make plans for tomorrow.
Tomorrow we start on our holy quest of visiting Holy Doors. I am not all a flutter with anticipation but I am looking forward to getting out and about in Chi-Town. I sleep with the door to the second story balcony open, not even thinking about the fact that we share the balcony with the other apartment on the second floor. Friday comes to a close and I snuggle close to my wife in our too small bed. Not at all a bad place to be.