I'm sitting outside a nearby coffee shop, having been routed by my cleaning people. (They're as unobtrusive as any I've ever employed, but the whine of vacuuming punctuated by the occasional alarming crash is almost always enough to drive me elsewhere.) It's a gorgeous breezy day and I'm sipping a luscious green tea and wild berry smoothie - slowly so as not to get brain freeze. My laptop battery is draining its juice at a much faster clip, so in a few minutes I'll have to go inside and find an electrical outlet.
I'm writing a book about a young woman struggling with disappointment. The section I've been working on today takes place in the summer in Chicago because I can't think of a better metaphor for disappointment than humidity. As I wrote about my character heading home from the Loop at the end of a long irritating day, I could feel the hot blasts of air like bus exhaust on the street and the close stickiness on the packed bus she takes. It's one of those allegedly air-conditioned CTA buses, so its windows are tightly closed. Everyone is limp, dispirited and, I imagine, dreaming about cool breezes, cold showers, icy drinks. I don't think my character wears pantyhose, but I'm remembering the precise physical feeling of being slimily encased in those horrible things on hot, humid summer days early in my career when wearing them at least occasionally was impossible to avoid.
Writing this segment put me so convincingly in summertime Chicago that I started to feel bad for all the people actually walking through that sticky air and packed into those stifling buses. Then it occurred to me with a jolt that the real Chicago is still in the throes of winter.