I am sitting in the library with a dusty old phone book in front of me. This book is over thirty years old, and ironically there are thirty people with the last name Myers in the book. I am checking each Myers to see if the number next to it matches Kelly’s phone number. I do not have to refer to a piece of paper to see Kelly’s phone number. To say I have memorized it is an understatement. I live, breathe, and dream that phone number. When I close my eyes, those numbers are etched in bright red under my eyelids; and a week ago while I was filling out a form, I almost wrote Kelly’s phone number instead of my own.
Before I look at each Myers, I take a big breath in preparation for the disappointment I will feel when the numbers do not match. I have gone through ten Myers, and I have yet to find a match. I still feel hopeful, and I take a deep breath and look at the eleventh Myers. The phone number that has haunted my life is written neatly before me in graying black ink. I pick up my phone to call Mike, but something stops me. I have never been especially superstitious, but I feel telling him that I have an address, before I know what I’ll find out at that address, could somehow change the outcome of this trip.
I remember a story my mom used to tell me when I was young. It was about a duck and a penguin who were best friends. The penguin bragged to the duck how he was the best swimmer in the world, because he could swim in freezing water under sheets of ice. One day the penguin went for a swim, and he was in the water too long. When he tried to reach the surface, the entire ocean had become covered in ice. The penguin was not able to reach the surface and he drowned. However, his last thoughts were not about his impending death, but about how the duck would probably laugh at him. I always promised myself that I would never be the penguin, and I see no reason to break that promise today.
I’m in a cab which is heading towards a house that Kelly Myers once called home. The cab pulls in beautiful but decaying neighborhood. It is one of those neighborhoods, that when it was new was a lovely place to live, but now the houses are beginning to look worn down, and the trees have begun to die. The cabbie pulls up next to a one story house, which had fared better than most of its neighbors. There are blue flowers and metal swans in the front yard, and a pair of wind chimes hang in the doorway. I tell the cab driver to wait for me, and I get out of the cab.
As I walk towards the house, I wonder if my mom ever played in this yard. If she ever climbed the oak tree at the corner of the street, or rode her bike on the concrete sidewalk. I knock on the door, and a woman with a blond hair on her head and a baby in her arms, answers the door. She looks younger than I am. “Are you selling something,” she asks annoyed.
“No,” I reply. “I’m actually trying to locate an old friend who used to live here, Kelly Myers.” I show the woman the picture of Kelly.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t help you,” the woman replies. “We only moved to this house two years ago, and we were told this house had stood empty for ten years.”
“Thanks for taking the time to talk me,” I say, and I turn around quickly so this stranger will not be able to read the immense disappointment on my face.
“Wait Miss,” the lady yells when my hand reaches for the door of the cab. “The old couple who lives across the street, have lived here for over thirty years. Perhaps they will be able to help you.”
I thank the woman and walk towards the house she is pointing at. The cab driver is reading a magazine, and he does not notice any of my strange actions. When I get to the house, I knock on the door, and an old woman, covered with grey hair and wrinkles, answers the door. “I am looking for an old friend of mine,” I say for the second time. “Her name is Kelly Myers, and she used to live in that house over there.” I point at the house with the metal swans and wind chimes.
“You know, I remember the Myers,” the old lady says with a smile. “They moved shortly after Bill and I moved into the neighborhood.”
“Do you remember where they moved to?”
“You know whats strange, I do. It was a long time ago, but I will never forget the city that they moved to, because that is the city where I met my husband Bill. I met him in a small french restaurant, where he was the waiter. I think it’s the most romantic city on earth, although many people probably disagree.”
“So what is the most romantic city one earth?”
“Why Chicago, Illinois of course.”
Chicago. It is the city where my dad lives; the city that I can visit without rousing anybody’s suspicion. For the first time in my life, I begin to believe in fate.