June 10th was the 10th anniversary of my moving to Chicago. I meant to write about this milestone earlier, but the weeks of this summer have slipped away as quickly as the years of my Chicago tenure.
It doesn’t feel like ten years, but there is much evidence convincing me this is true. I now have a six-year-old and an eight-year-old even though I moved here without children. I recently celebrated my ninth wedding anniversary even though when I moved here I was only engaged.
My now-husband and I first moved into a two bedroom apartment, then upgraded to a two bedroom plus den shortly before our son was born. We moved into our current house shortly before our daughter was born. That means we’ve been in this house for more than six years, which seems even more unbelievable than our total ten-years in Chicago. Of course, I’m the sort of person who still feels like the nineties were ten years ago, so my sense of time is not to be trusted.
On the one hand, ten years sounds like a long time, but on the other hand it feels too short. Places I lived before seem almost dreamlike in their vagueness. Sometimes I feel like Chicago is the only place I truly remember living.
I love it here.
My city is much maligned and certainly has its problems, but there is so much to love. So much that I love.
I love the amazing food in Chicago, and I’m not just talking about James Beard Award-winning restaurants downtown. I’m talking about my charming neighborhood spots, both the fancy and the humble, in a rainbow’s worth of cuisines.
I love the arts here. I love that on any given night there are an overwhelming number of music and theatre options at a wide range of ticket prices (often including free). I have a poker-hand’s worth of museum memberships that doesn’t even include all the good ones.
I love the beach. I didn’t realize until I saw it just how genuinely beach like the Lake Michigan beach can be. There is sun, hot sand, wave sounds, and happy children. Trips to the ocean are fun but unnecessary. Bonus to Chicago’s beaches: No jellyfish.
I love my friends. I love my neighbors. I love my 1,000+ trick-or-treaters. (I would be so sad if I moved somewhere where they only get a dozen or so trick-or-treaters at Halloween. I’ve been spoiled.)
I love Chicago’s numerous street festivals and block parties. I love our hundreds of parks and playgrounds. We make every excuse to be outside during the beautiful Chicago summer.
I even love Chicago’s winters. I used to to live in Montana, so I know cold weather is survivable. What I love is the rugged practicality that takes over when everyone is trying not to freeze. Everyone is equal in sleeping bag coats with scarves pulled over our noses.
People sometimes ask if I plan to stay in Chicago. It’s an awkward question for someone who has moved around a lot. It’s hard for me to imagine never moving again, but it’s also hard to imagine wanting to move. I answer as honestly as I can, “I have no plans to leave Chicago” because I truly don’t.
Sweet home Chicago, indeed.
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