Of all my posts, I think I’ve centered only one on Chicago. I’ve lived there now for 10 years. Oh, and I was born and raised there, too.
I never appreciated my home town when I was younger. For years I only thought about leaving Chicago.
But when I think back to those days, I actually had it pretty good.
Every month, my mom took me to Clark Street for sushi (before its mayonnaise-ation), then on to Belmont Avenue to get our hair cut. Sometimes I hung out at grungy bars on the north side when my uncle’s ska band played all ages shows. My parents took me to converted warehouses for avant garde art shows on the near south side.
When I was older, about 12 or 13, I rode the el with my younger brother to Cubs games and sat in the left field bleachers–before the lights went up and bleacher tickets were sold in advance. As a teenager, I was free to roam North Michigan Avenue and State Street. This was well before the days of cell phones or Blackberries. My parents didn’t even expect me to find a pay phone to check in. It was a pretty carefree childhood, that’s for sure.
Now that I’m back in Chicago to stay, I do appreciate the city and find that I don’t take what we have here for granted. It’s fun to daydream about my past–dodging teargas in Seoul, getting detained in Saigon, searching for food in Moscow. But I’m lucky my family had the foresight to settle in a city rich with museums, restaurants, and a beautiful skyline. And a scandalous history.