This picture above was taken back in 1999. Since I hadn’t yet switched to digital photography back then, this image exists as a physical photograph. From time to time, I use this forum as a way of transferring a few of these photographs into digital form by running them through a scanner, and then posting them online with a few words of commentary. My goal is to have these pictures live on in cyberspace, so that when the photograph itself is lost or discarded, the story behind it will continue.
In 1999, my older daughter was born on Easter Sunday, Opening Day for the baseball season, the day that Daylight Savings Time kicked in, and the actual date, itself. So she has four birthdays that we recognize, since the date of those first three things changes from year to year. We like doing that, and I think that she does, too.
One of the first days after we got to bring her home from the hospital, there was an election held in Chicago. it was actually a run-off election, since the primary had identified the two top aldermanic candidates and required a run-off, since neither of the top two had gained a majority the first time around. We moved out of that ward within a year, and bought a house in another ward, but at the time we had no idea what the future would hold. There was an election going on, and my wife and I are civic-minded people, so voting just seemed like the thing to do.
We bundled our little one up, put her in the stroller with a fleece covering on the top for added warmth, and set off to the polling place inside the local library branch in order to vote. The library branch in the picture was about two blocks from our condo, and the picture was taken outside of that branch. We liked that library branch a lot, and we definitely lost that when we moved to a different neighborhood with an older and more run-down library branch. But no regrets, because we love the house, and whatever the nearest public library branch is wouldn’t ever determine where we live, anyway.
The Cubs jersey that I had on was given to me as a birthday gift in 1998, when the Sammy Sosa home run race with Mark McGwire was just taking off. I remember what an exciting time that was, and I would do the whole chest-tapping routine that Sammy Sosa once did. I even did it when we visited the Field of Dreams in Iowa that summer.
A young boy of about four or five saw me, in the Sosa jersey and the Cubs hat I was wearing, and asked me if I played for the Cubs. I smiled at him and replied “Only in this place.” It was the first time that I remember thinking that being a parent might be fun. And my experience has shown that it absolutely is fun. More fun than anything else has ever been for me.
I bring that story, and all the other ones surrounding this picture, up because almost everything about it is different now. We don’t go to that library anymore, because we don’t live in that ward (but are still in Chicago, itself). The stroller isn’t needed, because its occupant now runs and dances and can get herself wherever she wants to go. The jersey itself isn’t worn, because Sammy Sosa left Chicago and I have no desire to be affiliated with him anymore.
But there is one thing from this picture hasn’t changed. The man seen in the picture still loves the unseen little one inside the stroller, and still thinks that having her in his life makes it better and more interesting. She’ll be embarrassed if she ever sees this, because she’s at that stage in life right now, but that’s OK.
One day, hopefully, she’ll find herself in a place similar to mine, and her feelings of embarrassment will take a backseat to her desire to express her other feelings. Perhaps she’ll understand that things like condos and library branches and ballplayers will come and go in life, but love is something that can outlast them all. That’s the hope, at least.