5.16.2013

Chicago Is My Kind of Town

Via
Some of you know I went to college in Chicago but since I started this blog after moving to California, I don't really talk about it much.  It's one of those things that lives comfortably in the back of my mind, waiting for the perfect moment to hit me with a dose of nostalgia.  So when I thought about one of Jenni's recent prompts - What do you miss? - I couldn't help but think of Chicago.

I moved to Chicago when I was 18 years old, just three months after graduating high school.  I still remember that day so clearly.  It was August 26, 2000, pre-9/11 so my family was able to come with me to the gate at the airport.  My cousin's grandmother came, too, and she gave me a copy of Oh, The Places You'll Go which, of course, I read on the spot.  Any time I think of that book, I associate it with sitting in the airport in San Antonio, anxiously awaiting the call to board.   I remember landing in Chicago with nothing but my four suitcases and one large brown shipping box.  That's it.  That's all I took with me.  That's all I needed to start my life.

Of course, part of the nostalgia is also for my friends and the people I love who lived there.  I say "lived" because it seems that most of them have moved away by now - to new cities, new countries, new suburbs, new towns.  It's what happens in life.  People move on to new places while the old beloved ones change into something new of their own.  I've only been back to visit Chicago twice since I left and while many things still look the same, there have been plenty of changes that have made my treasured places unrecognizable.  Like my old apartment that has since been bulldozed to extend the platform at the Belmont station.  Or DePaul's old theatre school building -where I spent four years of my life- that will soon be replaced by a shiny new (and much needed) facility.  Not to mention all the little shops and restaurants and cafes that have been replaced by one new business after another.  It's a lonesome thing realizing a place with so much significance now exists solely in your memory.

As much as I love living in California and have no desire to leave, Chicago will always have a special place in my heart.  Chicago is where I became independent and learned to rely solely on myself.  Chicago is where I became the first woman in my family to graduate from college.  Chicago is where I discovered what I liked and didn't like, what I needed in a friend, who I wanted to be, what my hopes and dreams were.  I knew Chicago like the back of my hand and felt comfortable in nearly every part of the city.  That city spoke to me, and we became the best of friends.  And when we see each other again, we'll pick up right where we left off like true best friends, each of us grown and matured in separate ways but still the same deep down at heart.

xo



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8 comments

  1. Stopping by from the link up! I enjoyed reading your post. I've only ever visited Chicago, but I thought it was a beautiful city! Wish I was as nostalgic about my college years :)

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  2. Oh the places you'll go is one of my all time favorite books... i read it probalby once a month. and chicago is the best! I took a trip there last summer and it was absoutely gorgeous! granted, i've heard the winters are not as much fun, but I'd love to visit again in the fall!!

    XO
    Anna

    www.thesnaphappyblog.com

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  3. I love this post! Chicago is such a fabulous city and one that I love to visit!

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  4. I used to always want to move to Chicago... mostly because of the improv scene. I've only been a few times, but I have always liked it. It's always seemed like a suburban city, if that makes sense. A city with values, a city for families... I like it, but I have never been able to fully dive in and really love it. I enjoyed this post, though, and it's making me think that I should give it more of a chance... :)

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  5. Love this post so much, Stephanie :) I love the memories of a city once visited (or lived)...but isn't it also so great to experience it in a whole new light...a different time in your life, perhaps with different people, or alone? Just a perspective that I have coincidentally been pondering since my recent travels! XO Brynn

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  6. love, love chicago. my parents live in one of the suburbs so i get to go out and enjoy it a few times a year (MUCH more enjoyable in summer). i'm sure i'll be feeling this same way about dc very soon!

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  7. I really love how where you went to college can be that special place. It's why Austin will always be home in my heart and why I will always want to go back time and time again. It's my heaven on earth and seeing the tower burn orange always brings back a flood of memories

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