Daley Plaza across from City Hall Credit: Phil Roeder/Flickr

The most memorable doughnut of my life was from the Do-Rite that used to be right around the corner from Petterino’s. It was the morning of my divorce. My soon-to-be ex-husband and I were meeting for coffee before walking across Randolph to the Daley Center, where we would kick our three-year marriage to the curb. We needed sugar. I can’t remember what he ordered at the time—a sure sign of the self-absorption that contributed to our dissolution—but mine was a glazed doughnut of resignation, a leavened dough I could mush easily between my anxious, sticky fingers. I still had streaks of sugar on my palms as my ex and I held hands in front of the judge, and, sobbing, sliced ourselves in half. 

I thought about this doughnut the next time I found myself at Clark and Randolph. I hopped out of an Uber with my fiance, bouquet in hand, $20 white dress draped across my eager body, and muddy combat boots poking out from beneath the hemline. While he panicked and quickly realized that he’d lost our marriage license, I panicked and considered how I was getting remarried mere feet from my first failed experiment: “What a fucking fuck-up.” I held my breath and jumped anyway, heading west on Randolph, crossing Clark, and marching shamelessly into City Hall. I sobbed through my vows and, with all the sweetness I had, stuck myself to my new husband.

Three happy years into that second marriage, I still get flustered when I pass through the intersection of Clark and Randolph. I think about the ends and beginnings on either side, the people walking into the best and worst days of their lives, the real impermanence of the whole ordeal. The Daley Center and City Hall, standing across from each other on Clark Street, make the same kind of vows and declarations to Chicago itself: We will withstand, love, honor, cherish, ruin, enrage, leave, and stand still. We will fall so short, but we will try again. What a wonderful fucking fuck-up. 

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