I moved to Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day in 2008, and let me tell you, it was hard going for a while there. I’d just left Aidan in OH with his dad, my cat Lucy passed away, I couldn’t find a decent job, it was cold and grey, and I had some major sticker shock in regards to the cost of groceries. Things didn’t start to look up until that summer. Adam found me a great doctor who I still use to this day, I got medicated again, I got to temp in an office that was a far cry from the nightmare I worked for in my first job here, I (re)discovered chocolate covered ice cream bars, and Aidan was with me. We also got Helena, and oh right, Adam and I got married.
Things got better for me after that first few months, and I’m pretty adjusted now. I still have mixed feelings about living here, though.
– how people start shooting everyone once the summer temperatures hit. really? why do you need to go around shooting and killing folks? and dude, it’s been winter for like, eight months. why are you mad that it’s finally warm?
– people (myself included) are SCARY when they drive here. every time i get behind the wheel (and let’s be honest, i try to avoid that as much as possible), i freak out a little bit. people are super aggressive and quick to honk and throw middle fingers. so am i, i’m ashamed to say. (it’s why i don’t have things on my car that say namaste or something, cause i don’t feel it when i’m behind the wheel!)
– there is never a defined rush hour. bad traffic is almost always a constant. and it’s terrible. when it takes 90 minutes to go 30 miles, you know something’s not right.
– on that same note–the traffic lights. they’re just wrong. there are so many of them, and none of them are timed in a way that makes sense. for example, you will be sitting at a red light and you’ll see the green one on the next block. your light finally turns green… just in time for the light on the next block to turn red just as you get to it. imagine dealing with that for miles and miles. yeah, i understand why the dudebros in the big black suvs get aggressive.
– i hate driving here because it turns me into a raving bitch.
– because people do things here that i don’t see anywhere else. the sheer amount of double parking on the streets still blows my mind. people don’t think twice about blocking traffic to get a sandwich. “my flashers are on, so it’s ok!” they must think. the sense of entitlement some drivers have here is amazing.
– the sales tax. why the hell is it nearly 10%?
– also, why are groceries taxed?
– gas prices in the city are nearly $1 more than in any other part of the state/country.
– the cold lasts so long here. while everyone else in the country is posting pictures of their kids in their spring clothes and things in april and early may, i’m still in gloves and a heavy coat. it doesn’t warm up here until mid-to-late june. we get about eight weeks of really warm temps on average and only two of them are unbearable (for me anyway).
– it’s an intense city. people are in a hurry to go ACCOMPLISH THINGS. or i feel like i can’t walk down the street without someone wanting something from me. it gets to be wearing. i spend a lot of time hiding in my room because just a few days out in that craziness makes me feel violated.
– the library and education system here is not good and they’re getting budget cuts all the time.
– it’s just plain inconvenient to own a car, and that’s done purposefully, with high registration costs, random extra costs like city stickers, expensive and challenging parking, and the awful aforementioned traffic systems.
– people don’t clean up after their dogs in the winter. it’s so gross once the snow finally melts in june and there’s dog poo all over the sidewalks.
– people are loud. and there are a lot of them. i need space.
– morton arboretum. lots and lots of trees!
– LOTS of amazing authors come here for book events. (remember when i met judy blume?)
– so many opportunities for creative industry folks like me. i get to primarily work from home doing what i love. that’s quite a blessing.
– anderson’s bookshop.
– molly’s cupcakes.
– the cta (but i say that being a person who doesn’t rely on it every single day like some commuters)
– lots to do–it’s your own fault if you’re bored.
– shopping. i can hop on a bus and be at a tiffany & co. in 20 minutes. lots of really great stores that are not common to find.
– cloud gate.
– the skyline really is impressive.
– christmas in chicago is a wonderful thing. everything’s so beautifully decorated. there is the german christmas market downtown, the macy’s store windows, and the big tree in daley plaza.
– they film a lot of movies and tv shows here.
– i can sometimes get background acting roles for movies.
– i can wear my hair natural and not feel like i’m being “subversive” or “making a statement.” because god forbid i wear my hair the way it grows out of my head.
– the community at moksha yoga (which is the one thing i’d really miss if i moved).
– i have an amazing doctor. she really, truly cares about her patients, and she feels like a friend.
– good sushi is right around the corner.
– i mean, i can walk to a delicious sushi place in about three minutes.
– even though they poop everywhere, the dogs are typically pretty friendly and they cheer me up a lot by coming up to me for pets and rubs.
– people as a whole are dicks, but individually, they’re really cool. a lot of folks who live here are super friendly. except when they’re driving. then they’re assholes. so am i.
– it’s cool to say “i live in Chicago” when people ask where i’m visiting from.
– i’ve gotten to do some really cool things, things that would have never happened if i haven’t lived here: becoming friends with sarah dessen, meeting weird al, being an extra in divergent and seeing kate winslet in person, meeting ll cool j, getting to go backstage at certain shows, hanging out with ricky luna, all the master yoga teachers i’ve studied with, getting certified to be a yoga teacher, the huge fireworks in my neighborhood every july 4….
Now, Adam is absolutely in LOVE with Chicago, so I don’t see us leaving here any time soon. But sometimes I do fleetingly think of moving somewhere new. Sometimes, I just feel like I’m ready for a new adventure. Except I’m not sure where I want that adventure to be! I do know this: I want somewhere warmer (or at least somewhere with a normal winter), less expensive, less crowded, less intense, and more green. It’s so weird, one never knows where they will end up, right? Ten years ago, I would have NEVER pictured this life…even though I had started planting the seeds to grow this life. So who knows what new awesome things are in store for me?