Sunday, October 24, 2010

So long, Chicago.

Leaving Chicago will certainly be bittersweet.  I knew when I arrived that my time here had an expiration date.  That date is now two days away and although I at times dreamt of the day I could leave in my dust the crime, poverty, trash that so often embody this city, it's hard to say goodbye. Sadly, I will leave Chicago still very much a stranger in my own city.  By nature, I'm inquisitive. If I see a rock, I flip it over to see whats underneath.  I've never enjoyed life from the couch much.  And as such, I've spent most of my time here seeking out unique experiences with friends and there are no lack of them to be had.  Chicago is a maze of neighborhoods and cultures spewing fourth a cornucopia of ethnic eateries, back ally dive bars, bohemian hang outs and eccentric music venues, too many to count.  If you live in Chicago and you are bored, then you are just plain lazy and unimaginative.  Chicago is a bit of an oxymoron: the most convenient, inconvenient place on earth.  Need three dozen tiny, live Korean land crabs and some freshly ripened Daikon kimchi?  Not a problem, take the Kennedy and stop off at Jong Boo market.  Want a day at the beach?  Just head East, it's not far.  A professional sports game?  Please, take your pick.  In the mood for calves brain Marsala at an authentic Pakistani restaurant?  Just head up to Devon Avenue.  Living in Chicago, everything is at your finger tips.  But, throw in a strangers fender bender on the Dan Ryan Expressway, some road construction, or a sporting event and your trip to the store to buy some deodorant can quickly turn into a head spinning three hour debacle where you find yourself chugging mouth wash in the back of a CVS to make your one-mile trip home bearable. 

In the end, Chicago got the best of me.  Too much concrete, to little grass.  Too much traffic, sirens and horns, to little tranquility.  Chicago is a city that changes you.  Once you've lived there long enough, and its gets its paws on you, you will likely never be the same.  It is, to some degree, post-traumatic Chicago stress.  You will never drive the same, you will never let your guard down when walking home at night and you will likely never anticipate the unsolicited kindness and generosity of someone simply doing their job, as they should. There is a buzz that takes hold of you when you live in a big city and once you leave, it's hard to shake.    

Most of my time in Chicago has been spent in the Bucktown neighborhood with the company of a few great friends.  Bucktown is one time Polish hub turned artists' community, turned hipster and trendster hangout.  I don't understand it, but I love it nonetheless.  Like everyone else it seems, I bought a condo in Bucktown during the height of the real estate boom, thinking I could make a quick fortune, invest it in the stock market and spend the rest of my life slinging "Bahama Mamma's" in a beach bar in Mexico.  Little did I know, even Mexico would go to shit.  Soon after I moved in, Bucktown was overrun with hipsters.  It was like Custer's last stand: the hipsters were the Indians and I was with the white man who had invaded their territory. I never quite took to hipsters and I still don't quite like them.  Hipsters are a bit of a paradox: a group of young people trying so hard to be different, that in the end, they all essentially become the same thing. 

In spite of all of the bad experiences I've had in Chicago, the friends I've made and had the pleasure of experiencing this great city with have made it all worth while.  I moved to Chicago knowing no one. I slept on my sisters floor with my dog for six months until I was able to find some roommates through an acquaintance.  I've met many people in Chicago and I am fortunate enough to walk away with a few life long friends. I'll miss you guys and I'll miss Chicago.  Thanks for all the great times.

So long, Chicago.


No comments:

Post a Comment