I visited Chicago during the holidays after a year away and was reminded how spectacular the City is. There’s something about Chicago that makes your jaw drop. Maybe it’s how clean it is? Maybe it’s the sheer precision with which they’ve blended classic and modern architecture? Maybe it’s the people? I can’t pinpoint it. But, it feels like a real city.
I took time while I was there to just walk around. I didn’t have anywhere in particular I needed to be, I just wandered. (Which is, if I don’t say so myself, the best way to see any city). I took it in. I enjoyed the buildings. I reminisced. It’s hard to go somewhere you’ve been before without thinking about the last time you were there. Places are places, not just because they bring people to them, not just because they have a purpose, a function, a history, not just because they create an identity, but because they imprint themselves into our memories. Once you’ve visited a place it’s hard to go back and create new memories. You become stuck. Wanting to revisit the places you’ve been to remember how it and you were before.
I couldn’t help, but walk around Chicago—walk around the Loop—without laughing about how it felt like I was walking to work like I use to. I walked down the same streets. Saw the same buildings. It felt like it always felt. The only difference was that instead of being a resident to the City, I was a tourist. I was impressed the same way I was every day I went to work by the clean lines of the buildings, by the finely tuned glass structures standing next to art-deco masterpieces. And, I couldn’t help but think I could live here. Of course, I’ve already lived there. It’s easy to say to yourself you can live somewhere, you can make it your home, when you aren’t actually living there, because the life of a visitor to a city is different than the life of a resident. Even if you immerse yourself in the culture of a place when you’re traveling, you can never really know how it is to live there until you’re actually living there.
I’ve lived in Chicago. I love Chicago. The people are nice. The architecture is beautiful. The culture great. But I’ve lived there. As I walked through the City I had to remind myself that for whatever reason—quite possibly the four months of below zero weather—it isn’t quite me. Then again, maybe there’s not actually a city or a town that’s just perfect for each and every one of us, maybe we have to compromise and find the place that is as close to perfect as we can.