chicago, I love you.
I remember the first time I visited Chicago - it was December 2000, before climate change really got serious and we started having 60 degree days in February so - to put it simply, it was very cold. I was only celebrating my fifth birthday but I still remember a ton of details about the trip; visiting the Children's Museum at Navy Pier, the Rock and Roll McDonald's, the (seemingly-at-the-time) GINORMOUS Disney store on Michigan Ave. I remember posing for photos with my hot chocolate at Ghirardelli, and how all my very midwestern family members only (and to this day) refer to it as Ghirardelli's. (Gotta add that "s" onto everything, ya know?) I also remember deciding then and there that this is where I wanted to be when I grew up.
the star of my grandparent's refrigerator since december 2000 ✨
Of course, between the time you're five and the time you actually start planning what the beginning of your adulthood is going to look like - lots of things change. My plan to be an architect turned famous actress/theatre teacher who also dabbles in space travel had simplified (thankfully) down to just actress by the time I was applying for college. But the idea of where I wanted to live had remained the same, and despite every roadblock against me, I moved here.
August 26th will mark three years since I left everything and everyone I knew and moved to Chicago. (You can read more about my journey doing that here.) Since then I've changed my major once, lived in four different neighborhoods, taken 615 Ubers (I am.........not proud), had 4 different jobs, adopted 1 hedgehog, and 1 boyfriend (both of whom I live with in our second apartment together.) So much has changed in these past three years, but I am so happy to have learned so much about life in this beautiful city.
our first night in our first grown-up/non-on campus apartment 😭
so, without any more nostalgic babble, my ten favorite things/reasons I'm madly in love with chicago, illinois.
7. the FOOOOOOD
My body is a temple and I choose to stuff that temple with every kind of food Chicago wants to throw at me. My very intense love for thai food was birthed here, and that's a mark Chicago gave me that I will take to the GRAVE.
6. the A+ public transportation
Nothing transitions you from "lil girl from medium-size-town safe in her jeep liberty" to "independent quick walkin' city lady" faster than the CTA. You're gonna see things, you're gonna smell things, but you're also gonna get where you need to go a lot easier than you would somewhere like LA.
5. everything feels close to home
Yeah, sure, it's a big city grouped off into 77 neighborhoods - but somehow, nothing really feels that far away. (Unless there's a 7x surge and it's raining and you're trying to get from Wicker Park to Uptown but, like, I still feel like that's nothing compared to traveling across the big scary boroughs of NYC)
4. the comedy community
I'm a little biased here, but I feel so lucky to be able to call myself a part of the Chicago comedy community. Of course it has it's pros and cons, but this is truly the only city you can find a million different open mics, improv shows, jams, sketch shows on any given night of the week. And speaking from an improvisor/sketch writer/actor standpoint, it genuinely feels like the other members of the community want you to succeed. (After growing up a catty little musical theatre brat, this is like, the major key for me.)
just a handful of the hilarious people I get to work with in this city 💘
3. big city attitudes / midwest manners
Sometimes you forget you're in the middle of the midwest when you're surrounded by so many people and so much going on - but then someone apologizes after pushing you, and you re-remember how much nicer people are here. (Of course, not always, but let's just assume the rude ones didn't grow up around here.)
2. where the water + city meet
While I can't say North Avenue Beach is my favorite always because of the troves of suburb kids that come to visit in the summer (no offense, Naperville, I'm just scared of you guys who share your white parent's deplorable ideals) I do get all da fuzzy feelings walking down that part of the Lakeshore Trail where the beach is on your left, Lake Shore Drive on your right, and a piece of the skyline is straight ahead.
1. it's a great place to learn how to be an adult
I've been saying since I moved here that Chicago is a GREAT transition city. While a large part of my heart (and my career path) wants to end up on the West Coast, I wouldn't be the person I am now had I moved straight from Ohio to LA. Chicago is just simultaneously close enough and far away from home for me to have learned how to deal with homesickness but also push through and become a more independent adult.
Chicago often gets a bad rep from people who don't care enough to understand the socioeconomic issues behind what you hear on the news about Chicago. (ex. the classic "Doesn't it scare you living in the MURDER CAPITAL OF THE COUNTRY?!?!") But at it's core, Chicago is one very tough, resilient bish - and even after three years (and evidently so many Uber pools???) I still wake up so excited to live here.
what's your favorite thing about your city? tell me in the comments!