As if often the case when I pay attention, I found today filled with gifts.
The joy of working hard at our new project Crunch Time and the privilege of listening to people share their experiences living in the South Side.
One mother with whom we spoke told us that her kids’ response to hearing so many shootings in their neighborhood was to develop a form of PTSD.
Each time her two boys heard a car backfire, she said, they’d come running in and tell her that they had heard more gunshots.
The woman explained that she had moved to the area because she and her family would be in a larger apartment.
But she didn’t realize the extent of the gun violence.
This woman is planning to leave the city with her two children and join her husband in Dallas by the year’s end.
“I don’t like bullets and all that,” she said.
We also were privileged to hear from a father who said he’s determined to educate his 9-year-old son about the dangers of their neighborhood while at the same time protecting him from those very dangers.
Too much on either side could have negative consequences, the gentleman said.
I always feel humbled and honored by people relating their experiences to me.
I also continually feel grateful to have work that means a lot to me, in which I have a chance to grow, and in which I believe.
After coming back to the office, I wrote up one story and polished another.
I also had the pleasure of talking with a colleague with whom we are engaged in a substantial project.
I got to talk with family members and to pass through a hazardous neighborhood without incident, to have the time and space to reflect on my life as I drove from our home down to the city’s South Side.
I had the great and good fortune to see my brother Jon quoted extensively and his work shown in The New York Times’ photography.
These are all wonderful things, and without a doubt they are all trumped by a single fact: today was our twelfth wedding anniversary.
Those who are expressing confusion since I just wrote about this topic not more than six weeks ago have good reason.
Dunreith and I got married three times, but always to each other.
We had a public ceremony on July 28, 2001.
We had a Jewish ceremony on September 3, 2001.
But the one that we count, our true anniversary, was on September 4, 2000.
That was the day Justice of the Peace Bruce Zeitler married us under a tree with three roots that came together at the base
That was the day we recited vows we had written and also had moments to speak from the heart to each other and to Aidan.
That was the day we cemented our commitment to be a family forever.
It’s an expression often said, and it’s still hard for me to believe that a dozen years have passed since that day.
It’s not that little has occurred in our lives.
Aidan’s grown from a boy to a man.
Both of Dunreith’s parents have passed away, as has my stepmother Diane Lowenstein.
We’ve moved from Massachusetts to Chicago and I’ve changed careers from education to journalism.
It’s more that it all still feels so recent, that I can, with very little effort, think back to that day and place it as just a little while back in my heart.
It’s also that I can project forward and imagine the next 12 years going even more rapidly.
Whatever the perceived speed of life’s passage, though, I can without reservation say, as I have done before, that becoming Dunreith’s husband and Aidan’s father are the two best decisions I have ever made.
It’s not that there haven’t been moments of challenge.
Any life and any partnership between people of clear mind and sufficiently strong will have some.
It’s that there is no question in my mind that I have found, and will be with, the right woman for me with whom to engage in the messy, sprawling, momentary experience we call life.
That knowledge, our history, and that sense of future direction are the biggest gifts of all.
Thank you, Dunreith.