Last night I took a selfie while taking a walk through the adjacent neighborhood. It was about 9:45 PM on a Saturday night. The pre-autumn winds were blowing nicely but not too strongly. There wasn’t a chill in the air. There was a very slight rustle to the leaves, but nothing to indicate the leaves were reaching the end of their life in 2020.
I propped my iPhone in the window sill of an old factory-turned office complex and set the timer to take the photo. I stood under the glow of an LED streetlight and next to a sign post. The photo was very simple and captured my mood and moment. I hope it conveyed how good I was feeling.
I posted this photo on Facebook. It was my first post of the week. I have calmed down on posting to Facebook but I still continue to do so, because love it or hate it, there are still a good number of friends and family that use Facebook as their primary form of digital communication. I think the caption said something like, “taken on a Saturday night in the greatest city in the United States”.
I truly feel this way about Chicago, Illinois. We have been fortunate to be able to travel all over the United States. My husband and I have experienced most of the major cities that U.S.A. has to offer. We’ve spent a decent amount of time in each of the cities and I can say without hesitation, I am the most comfortable in Chicago.
It’s the mix of the Midwestern vibe with the pace of being the third largest city in the country. I know some media outlets like to paint Chicago into a spooky, destructive, heinous war zone, but the truth of the matter is, you’re going to find that in any city in the country. The images of Chicago looking and acting like an apocalyptic war zone sells ads, fear, and propaganda.
The truth of the matter is, Chicago is probably one of the cleanest cities we’ve encountered. Unlike New York, we don’t pile our garbage on the streets. We have alleys and our garbage and recycleable bins go back there. It also feels like people just care more here; trash bins are used with regularity. While no city would pass a “white glove test”, Chicago is a lot cleaner than anything I’ve experienced on the East Coast.
Chicago has beautiful architecture, wonderful food, and eclectic neighborhoods. We have the Lakefront, and one of the largest cycling programs in the country. Each of the neighborhoods that make up Chicago bring their own ingredients to a very diverse mix of experiences. As a lad that grew up in relatively rural Upstate New York, I have gained so much more in the way of cultural experiences since moving to Chicago a little over three years ago. Are there bad neighborhoods? Unfortunately, yes, too many of them. But there’s also plenty of beautiful neighborhoods in the Windy City.
And lastly, one of the other things I love about Chicago is the weather. You won’t hear that a lot, because Chicago is cold in the winter. Very cold. It’s common to hear how brutal Chicago winters are, but when you compare snowfall here to what we used to experience in the Lake Ontario Snowbelt in Upstate New York, it’s no contest; it’s easier to deal with the cold in Chicago instead of being buried in snow elsewhere. And when it does snow, Chicago seems to handle it just fine.
The summers are awesome. There’s plenty of sunshine. Our proximity to Lake Michigan keeps us from being completely roasted under the summer sun. And as a storm chaser, the thunderstorms can be impressive. Mother Nature keeps me in awe here in Chicago.
Additionally, in an hour we can be completely out of the city and driving across the beautiful prairies of Illinois. On the occasions I need to step away from city life, I can be near Green Acres in no time. It’s a win-win.
And lastly, I mentioned the neighborhoods. I love walking in the neighborhoods. I love discovering what makes each piece of Chicago unique.
When folks elsewhere in the country find we live in Chicago, I often here the comment, “I love that city”. I’ve heard from folks in Florida, people on the west coast, desert dwellers, and people that grew up in the south.
The Second City? It’s second to none, just as our tourism ad campaigns proclaim.
Chicago will always have a special place in my heart.