Friday, March 23, 2012

drawing on life

At least twice on my evening commute home I’ve come across this older gentleman who spends five or ten minutes sketching various commuters on the Orange Line. Both times he’s shown a process that involves finishing whatever he hasn’t read in that day’s Post before pulling out a started sketch from the morning, digging his pen from his jacket, and spending about three stops adding some the evening commuters to fill out his morning scene. When his stop comes he takes one last glance around at the people, folds the sketch inside his newspaper, and heads home – hopefully to a warm house and small dinner with his wife.

He reminds me a lot of Cub, someone who wasn’t a grandparent, nor uncle (actually my second cousin), but who was a very important part of my life. This man is about the same age as Cub was when I was younger – as if I’ve grown and aged but he’s stayed forever 65. Cub was an artist who commuted via bus for about billion years to his work, drawing maps I believe, for Cook County in Chicago. He’d spent earlier parts of his life as a traveling musician and troubadour at Wrigley Field. He’d spent a good part of his life helping to raise and entertain my mother. He spent what seemed his whole life with Juanda in Chicago – at least the life I can remember. I always imagined him sitting on the bus heading north on Sheridan Drive in the evenings, doodling a bit, before getting off at W. Melrose and walking the block-and-half home…probably whistling. He was like that; a happy man in a happy life.

I’d meant to post earlier this month on the 25th year of Juanda’s passing; Cub left us about a decade ago, but I didn’t have the heart. Last night's encounter was a nice reminder that maybe some goofy kid comes to visit important people in his life, here D.C., every summer. He probably wanders around the city planning a life far into the future. He’s probably pretty happy with that…

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