Sweet (Future?) Home Chicago.
I grew up in suburbia. Not in the city. And, for me, this distinction is key. I don’t have any memory of actually going into the city until I was 14 and I went with my mom, sister, and aunts for a day of shopping at Water Tower Place and checking out the Hancock building. After that we went with a bit more regularity to see the Art Institute, the Christmas windows, eat at Berghoff. Overall, though? Most of it remained a mystery. We had memberships to the Milwaukee Public Museum, Zoo, and Conservatory growing up (my mom’s hometown), but Chicago was a semi-mystical place, reachable only by train and a whole lot of subsequent walking.
It’s certainly become a bit more real since college started. I visited Amy at her Loyola dorm during my freshman year, went to concerts, had Verona reunions at bars, met friends from different suburbs downtown and had to navigate things a bit on my own. I’ve gone with Adam a few times, just to wander and enjoy the sights.
But this weekend was probably the first time I could really see living there. It struck me how similar it was to my experiences in Europe: walking varying distances to meet up with friends in the city center for yet-to-be-decided dinner/drinks/museums/who-knows plans—-all of which were set to stunning backgrounds of castles and monuments. Or, in this case, skyscrapers, city parks, and appealing restaurants galore. To have groups of people to meet up with to enjoy delicious food/drink with, but also to know that you could just wander the city alone on a nice day and feel content. I miss that so much. And I don’t know if it will ever be the same stateside, but I think, realistically, I’m not going to come close without living in a city. Verona wasn’t particularly urban or large in the grand scheme of things, but it still had that epic, busy, city feel. Barcelona was probably more similar with its metra and Ramblas and crowd-packed streets.
I think it particularly hit home because of the settings we chose: Cafe Iberico for tapas and sangria (um, HOLA BARCELONA) and Irish Pub Fado’ for drinks (CIAO CAMELOT, un bar a Verona). Wandering Chicago the next day with Adam was definitely fun, too. Really just an all-around win of a weekend.
I’m not picturing moving into the city in August, as of now anyway. But someday, before I have kids but after I’ve saved a bit of money? It’s definitely something I’m comfortable having on the table. And am pretty excited about.
I want to explore it again soon. Soon: Second City? Amy’s new condo? A large Lou Malnati’s pie? Yes, please.