The best thing about living in Chicago is when people come to visit. They always ask how we like living in the city and it’s always somewhat embarrassing to answer truthfully that, except for work, we rarely go downtown. In fact, the last time I got anywhere close to our most famous buildings, the Hancock and the Sears Tower, was when Robert and I played an impromptu round of mini-golf on the Northwest Side, a good ten miles from downtown.
Our lives feel like an imitation of city-living as it is portrayed on television and in books and movies and blogs, which of course are an imitation of actual city-living. Living in Chicago means we pay 9.25% sales tax, a three-bedroom condo in our favorite neighborhood can cost well over half a million dollars, it takes forty-five minutes to drive anywhere, there is never anywhere to park, public transit routinely smells like urine, I carry mace between the train stop and my apartment, I wear a puffy winter coat from November to March, I’ve had numerous umbrellas blown inside out, we may have to enter our kid into a lottery to get into a decent public (!) school while politicians slash education budgets, and I regularly engage with crazy street people.
Living in Chicago also means that we have libraries and parks and zoos and museums and beautiful old neighborhood architecture and friends and neighbors who are loyal to the core and active in local politics and weekly protests downtown and food, my goodness the food, and a diverse religious community and concerts and comedy and beaches and lake views and docks and boats and lighthouses and public performance art, and I regularly engage with people period. Also, it’s starting to feel like home.