Chicago is. To me, there is no better place. Having been born and raised in this fine city has defined who I am, the experiences I have had, the relationships I have made — it makes me proud. If you have visited, ate, drank, danced, experienced a sporting event (Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks!), or met some fellow midwesterners you may understand my love for Chicago. Unless you have visited in the winter, or during “Chiberia", then your view may be slightly different. But nonetheless the winters make us stronger, our blood a little thicker, and without winter we wouldn't be able to do fun winter activities — I’m looking at you Kegball! So there’s a huge win. In all seriousness, looking at that Chicago skyline always stops me in my tracks. Rain, shine, snow, sleet and every other type of weather— It’s beautiful. It has my heart and always will.
As much as I love Chitown, I will admit that some winters may have gotten the best of me once or twice. That coupled with my desire to experience more and live in new places, led me to California. A state I only envisioned staying in, for a few months to a year. Now going on four years, I love California more then I could have ever thought. At the same time, it has also made me appreciate where I’m from and put into perspective what an incredible place Chicago is (winters and all).
Every time I visit home I fall in love with it more. I appreciate the littlest things, admire the beauty in my surroundings— the skyline, lake shore path, the parks, the harbor — and understand why home is truly where the heart is. Having just returned last week, I am still daydreaming about my favorite place in my favorite time of year. This past trip was full, and I mean full, of family time, friends, wine, dinner dates, double dates, happy hours, weddings, engagement parties, concerts, so much good food and also wine. I left with the fondest of memories, but also a bit down that it went by too damn quickly.
It’s interesting to look back on the last 4 years living here, and how trips home have evolved. In the beginning it was ROUGH. My mom and I would cry upon every airport drop off and pick up. I would question what I was doing, why I would live this far away and if it was worth it. Eventually I would get back into the swing of things, but part of my heart was always somewhere else. I have learned to embrace that.
When I left for California I was a little younger, a little more immature and a lot still thinking I was in college. San Diego started simply as a place of sunshine, beaches, bars, and going out (often), but it ultimately became a place where I started figuring who I wanted to be. Without my loved ones nearby, at times life has been fairly difficult, yet also rewarding. Moving forced me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to really know myself better — the good, the bad and everything in between. I’m very grateful for that.
Year after year, trips home are always special, but continue to change in new ways. Each time I return home feels like a new season of my life and a new season of my loved ones' lives. At first it was coming home to go out and catch up on all the nightlife I was missing out on, then it graduated to double dating, then siblings getting married, then becoming an aunt (the best!), and now my closest friends getting married. It’s a beautiful thing, but also difficult at times when I feel like I am missing out on family and friends' lives. There are times where I feel quite disconnected, which sends me into a constant state of FOMO (fear of missing out). All of that to say, I would not have changed one thing in the last four years. I’m exactly where I am supposed to be.
Being away has helped me grow in so many areas of life— areas I didn’t even know existed. It has helped me to appreciate family and home beyond my comprehension. It has put into perspective what is most important in life. The best part is that I have friends like family in a new place, I’ve explored and traveled and discovered, and now I have two places I call home - San Diego and Chicago.
No one told me your 20s were going to be one hell of a roller coaster ride! Yet, I’m so glad I moved away from Chicago to see and do life in a new city during this time. To make mistakes, take risks, say yes to any and all adventures (even with no budget to do so), but also to realize that there is no place like home. Chicago, I’ll be home soon. You’ll always be my kind of town…
This is my kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of people, too
People who smile at you
And each time I roam, Chicago is
Calling me home, Chicago is
Why I just grin like a clown
It's my kind of town.