The living room of our apartment, which is really our bedroom, as we’ve turned what is really the bedroom into our office, has the most beautiful triptych of windows that look out onto a little community park.
It’s my favorite feature of the whole place, maybe because my first Chicago apartment’s windows, which were suspiciously difficult to get open, as if sealed shut to exacerbate my feeling of being trapped like a fancy animal with pricelessly, adorably short legs, had a view of the person who lived across a “courtyard” the size of exactly one dead body across from me.
So I always kept my blinds shut, planning my escape. To here. My and my love’s living room bedroom with a view.
The only time it’s negative to live across from a community park, and its wide open tennis courts and basketball court and indoor swimming pool and swing sets and slides and water fountains that gurgle water all day like little never-ending metal waterfalls and a tree in the northeast corner that throws shade the exact width of my favorite quilt on lazy summer afternoons, is when children are playing outside in it and I’m working inside across the street.
I can hear them laughing and fake screaming as they throw their tiny bodies around in chase. I can see them playing hopscotch and daring broken ankles to bring it on as they perform glorious, ungraceful leap after glorious, ungraceful leap on the creak of an upswing. And I resent that I’m stuck inside, adulting, if you will, while some monster soaks up the summer under the public shade tree I seem to have decided I’ve colonized as mine.
Here’s what you need to feel better about things like this:
- 1 cup sugar
- A spoonful of lime zest
- 1/2 cup water
- Fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup lemon and lime juice
- 1 English cucumber thinly sliced
- 2 cups sparkling water, ice cold just like being a grown up
In a saucepan, if you have one clean, ha, ha, combine the sugar, lime zesties and water. Heat it up on a flame not too high, not too low, just like your stolen perfect shade tree, until the sugar is dissolved.
Take your dirty saucepan off the heat and stir in your mint leaves, but first smell the shit out of those mint leaves because that is supposed to be relaxing.
Let that mixture sit for 30 minutes. You can sit too, but you should probably do the dishes and also this: in a separate dish combine the freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice and cucumbers sliced thinner than your patience for things like cooking and dishes when there is a sunny day to be had and cares to be thrown down a slippery plastic slide.
Strain the syrup that’s been sitting and combine it with the lemon, lime and cucumber juice concoction. Put that in the fridge for at least an hour and walk to the store to pick up the sparkling water you forgot as well as a tamale from the tamale guy on the corner. Smile too long at the tamale guy on the corner in an attempt to mimic the happy feeling being outside has made you embrace and awkwardly walk away when you realize you have frightened him a bit, as an oversmiley white lady who seems to only be wearing makeup on one side of her face is wont to do.
Pull that mixture out of the fridge! Pour it over rocks in a rocks glass! Start over and pour it over ice in a rocks glass! Who brought these rocks inside in the first place! Add just as much sparkling water as you did the juice! Put a cucumber on its rim like a bird taking a break from flying back up north! Take it to your favorite window, eat it with your tamale, watch the children and know everything’s going to be alright!
Then, decide to crank through three more hours of work and finish this book, “Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid, a story that reminds you just how thankful you are to have a window at all and doors that don’t need to offer an escape to anything other than exactly what’s right outside and freedom to choose to wear shorts too early under a shade tree that’s only just now getting its leaves back. <3