I never thought of myself as a gentrifier when I moved into Chicago’s West Loop 15 years ago, but that’s the fate of anyone starting a family in an unestablished neighborhood. Now, I’m an amateur historian, racing against progress to document the place where I live.
Long before he was the successful Los Angeles Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly’s baseball life bore the arc of unfulfilled expectations. A story about my childhood hero, originally published in Elysian Fields Quarterly in 2008 and later picked up by The Cauldron in 2015.
St. Louis occupies a kind of in-between territory for me, an anchor for my young and adult lives. It’s the mythical big city of my childhood, where my favorite baseball team played two hours west across the stark cornfields of southern Illinois. Now it’s the smaller weekend destination downstate, but its own divisions seep into my experience in new ways.
For years I operated under the assumption that I threw it out my old favorite baseball glove. I never once considered it an accident, that I simply lost track of it through moving houses and major life events. But when it suddenly reappeared, it proved me wrong about my own worst habits.
Parenting is a constant exercise in finding connections to your own past through your kids, but memory is an untrustworthy thing. Part of what we think we have in common may be nothing more than our kids choosing their own version of the story.
I’d be worried about my qualifications as a parent if I didn’t get choked up at the sight of my three-year-old’s palm preserved for posterity in purple paint on a piece of construction paper. But I’m surprised that my son is showing that same streak of sentimentality already too.
The corned beef at Manny’s is so epic that I feel the need to offer this guide to ordering it properly. You don’t just saunter up to the counter and ask for a sandwich. You conduct yourself with the gravitas the corned beef of presidents deserves.