5/02/2016

Where It All Began


In our one-month trip back to the USA (from west to east), four days were for Chicago. It was going to be, for Tony and me, a nostalgic trip to the windy city where, as he calls it, it all began.

We planned on visiting old haunts that witnessed our young relationship in those ancient days.

Chicago was where Tony and I met. He was chosen Editor-in-Chief of the new newspaper to be published by the Filipino community. I was nominated as one of his section editors.

The Chief summoned me and his editorial staff to a meeting, where he would outline his vision and policies.

I remember that day very well—not because sparks flew between him and me, but because snow and wind blew, pummeling downtown Chicago relentlessly.

After that first meeting, where the Chief decreed in no uncertain terms who was the boss, buses and cabs in such woeful weather became sparse.  He volunteered to drive me home in his car (which, I later found out, was borrowed from his best friend).

Boy, you are snow-and-wind personified, I thought. His first salvo was a question: “Do you know where I work?”

“Where?”

“J. Walter Thompson.” (At that time it was the largest advertising agency in the world.)

Clueless, I asked back, “What’s that?”

He rattled off statistics, meant to shock and awe.

Un-shocked and un-awed (I was a starving art student and advertising agencies were the least of my concerns), I said, “Oh.” Or something monosyllabic. My thought balloon, Bring it on!   

One year and seven months later, I married my boss in the Philippines, where we settled, and Chicago became a part of our distant, historic past.

That’s how I remember it. Tony does not remember it at all. 

So despite the crazy Chicago weather in the spring of 2016 (rain, hail, snow, sunshine [all with accompanying wind] alternating within minutes), we did visit all the places that we both remember:

(Clockwise) The house where I lived . . . the apartment building where he stayed . . . the skyscraper where he worked . . . and the school which I attended.

The office where our editorial work was put to bed and where one newspaper every two weeks took shape, unfortunately, is gone. A new building stands in its place.

In this trip down memory lane, what we (or maybe, just I) remember most was the grace that brought two strangers, with a mutual passion for writing, together. 

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