For those of you who didn’t know it, MTM once lived in a little town called Chicago, Illinois. For six years, he ran his own architecture practice. He competed in worldwide architecture competitions, resulting in skyscrapers in Korea that he’s never seen. He was even a finalist in the Oklahoma City Memorial Competition and ended up on CNN.
Last weekend, he took me past a visible remnant of himself by showing me something he designed. On the front of a building in downtown Chicago, an entryway blared out MTM’s signature sensibilities, his clean lines and minimalist style. It was a piece of him that I could reach out and touch, from a time when I didn’t know him.
As we shivered our way around the city, I would catch our reflection, walking side-by-side in a random window glass. And, I wondered: did he ever walk this way and glimpse me? The two of us, together? When he ate fish and chips at his favorite pub, did a girl turn her head and conjure my image in her wake? Give him some clue of who he was seeking before he found me? Before he said hello?
I’ve studied photos of MTM from that time, scanning his younger face for the certainty of me. My favorite one of him from that era wasn’t taken in Chicago, though. It was shot in Japan. He is sitting alone in front of a glassy pond, broken by circular stepping stones, cherry blossoms dropping around him like pink-and-white confetti.
Somehow, I know I was there, too.
I just know it.