the short story project


The Foundation

I grew little up in a tiny south suburb of Chicago called Posen. When I went away for school about an hour and a half away I would just say I am from Chicago. However, I found myself needing to be more specific when I was away at school. So I would say, I was from close to Midlothian, which Posen borders. I would usually get a minor shrug and a hesitant murmur which led me to then say I was near Tinley Park. This usually pacified the person I was explaining this to as there was a major amphitheatre in Tinley Park, so Tinley Park was often on the back of the t-shirts that artists sold at the “merch” tents at the events. If you enjoyed being entertained and you ventured out to support your favorite bands or artist, odds are that you’ve spent at least a few hours in Tinley Park. So I am from Posen, near Midlothian, which is near Tinley Park, that happens to be a south to southwest suburb of Chicago, which is the third largest populated city in the United States that is known as much for their deep dish pizza as it is for their crime. I was visiting Hollywood, California with friends when I was in college. We were on Hollywood Boulevard, you know the place, it’s where all of the stars are on the ground. There is incredible people watching there. There are peddlers and street performers, people who are homeless and aspiring actors. Well we got to talking to an older gentleman that asked us where we were from. My friends had the same tactic as me. We were far from home so we just said “Chicago”. The old man was not satisfied with that response and he followed up like many of my suburban dormmates in college did with a “which part?” We said “the south suburbs”. He quickly asked “Which one?” We were willing to challenge him and we said “Posen”. Much to my surprise he said, “Now I know Posen, it’s in the middle of all three of those interstates. By Markham, Midlothian, and Tinley Park with that music place.” I was caught off guard. It was like he knew my icebreaker verbatim. I was impressed, at his recall and also a bit creeped out at that the specificity of those choice of words. He was mostly right and he certainly was aware of Posen and where it is on the map. Posen isn’t in the middle of three Interstates though. It is near three very busy interstates, but the dude was right. The only error was semantics. I am surprised he didn’t spurt out my address and social security number just to polish off the bit. He was either from there or was a savant with maps as an in for tips. The do-gooder in me thinks the former, the cynic thinks the latter. Either way, I gave him money because he asked for it, it’s not like I threw it at him and awkwardly marched forward. Apparently conversations were the foot-in-the-door that he needed to feel comfortable enough to ask me for some cash. I was a college student using student loans recklessly so I gave him some. That three dollars is now probably about seven dollars and forty five cents today. Well you know, with crippling interest and my lack of direction in life at that time. That coincidence is still with me today so those few bucks were worth it.

I am proud of where I came from. I was raised in a community that had it’s shit together. I was raised by a family that sheltered me from significant trauma. I was loved from many different angles as a child. My Sundays were often decorated with visits to both sides of the family. My dad’s side seemed to be closer knit than my mom’s side, but there was always love on both sides. The Nagle love was more straightforward. The Miller love was always there, but more protected, more indirect, more sarcastic, and looking back, the love was fierce. The Millers are like the long time not spoken to best friend that can jump right back into your life without missing a beat. That type of love is valuable and admirable. The Nagles showed love more directly. It was a hug and kiss goodbye with a whispered “I love you” in the ear. It wasn’t whispered for the sake of being bashful. It was just the first “I love you” that was paddled back and forth like table tennis until they were out of earshot. This type of love is important to me and was pivotal in molding me into who I am today. I love both ways to love, they suit me. Both ways to love demonstrated care, empathy, and kept me safe as a child. How did the anxiety that I experience today sprout from this foundation? This is the question I am going to try to answer as I write. I am hoping to stumble upon the answer as I share my truth.

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