I procrastinated writing and editing this. Don’t ask me why. My best guess is I was telling myself, “it wasn’t ready,” and I would get to it eventually. I needed personal time and wanted to enjoy my time off. Realistically, I think I didn’t want to come to terms with the fact that my time in Chicago was over. I’ve only been gone for a few months now, but it often feels like a lifetime ago. Sometimes I can’t believe I was just there and soon, I know, I will be shocked at how long it’s actually been. I didn’t anticipate leaving Chicago and being back in the Sunshine State to be bittersweet.
After living in Chicago for a little over a year, I have to say I take pride in the fact that I have a clear visual and general knowledge of many neighborhoods within the city. I can wholeheartedly say, I know that town and I will miss it.
Besides living in Chicago, living in the neighborhood, Logan Square, feels like a century ago. I moved in, in April 2017 and out of it by November. It’s barely been a full year since I left that part of Chicago and sometimes that place feels like a distant memory. What I can recall is this.
Living there felt tough sometimes, because it’s on the west side, a good distance from everyone and everything. For someone new to a city, and a big city at that, I’m rather proud of myself with how much I stepped out of my comfort zone to adapt to my new environment. The first time I rode the bus felt confusing and terrifying. The first time I rode the train, I went in the wrong direction. Also, confusing and terrifying. Toward the end of my stay, I rarely got lost and only felt confused or terrified over different aspects of life. I grew to love Logan Square, based on its culture and colors. Without a doubt that neighborhood has character.
I made friends with a yellow Labrador named, Olive, who lived down the street from me. Her owners never knew about our relationship, so our visits were brief and secretive. This sounds creepier than I want it to, but it’s the truth. I actually befriended tons of pets, none of which were mine. Having a liquor store across the street was dangerous, but amazingly sold some of the best avocados. I loved having easy access to the library across the street as well. For a while, there was a local produce grocery store that I occasionally shopped at when necessary, due to spending over $50 on essentially hummus, carrots, yogurt, and strawberries. I guess you could say I became a well-read, well-nutritioned, drunk. If that gets me closer to channeling Ernest Hemingway, I’ll take it.
There is also a Hispanic culture there, mostly Puerto Rican, which I found comfort in, missing the vibes of Orlando and Miami. Overhearing the Spanish language felt like home. I enjoyed running and working out at two local parks, and made the best of my circumstances, riding a bike to and from work every day on the 606, also known as The Bloomingdale Trail. Riding home with the sun setting will go down in history as one of my favorite views. I wish I had a photo, but every time I tried, it never did it any justice.
My apartment was pretty up to date with nice counter tops, an Apple TV, a fancy AC unit, a good washer and dryer, and hardwood floors. My favorite part was I lived alone and slept anywhere I wanted. The neighbors were pretty cool and not very loud. The more I write this the more I genuinely miss it, whereas before, I couldn’t wait to get into a new place.
Thus, moving into the neighborhood, Old Town was a nice change, especially being above a good family owned restaurant, Nookies. I became on a first name basis with one of the employees there, Speardon. Personally, the biggest perk was being a quick walk to Second City. Alright, being a quick walk to Second City and the bars. I also splurged on a gym membership to Equinox, because it was across the street, and ultimately left me with no excuse to not go. I got my money’s worth going 3-4 times a week, sitting in the sauna and the steam room after every workout. I could probably count on my fingers and toes the amount of times I showered at my apartment, rather than the gym. Which was preferable, because the water temperature at that apartment was less than ideal. It’s funny how when I lived in Logan Square I admired older Chicago apartments, because they felt, “authentic.” Yet, when I found myself in one with loud floorboards, a creaky dryer, and a horrible Wi-Fi connection, I was no longer impressed.
The grass is always greener, friends. Remember that. There’s good and bad with everything. I think the character of a neighborhood can make up for its location and vice versa. Still, I can genuinely say I was happy with both apartments, for multiple, different reasons. I was beyond grateful to be in both.
Rather than riding a bike, I was able to walk to and from work from my new apartment. A twenty minute, mile walk, that was well worth it every time, due to being indoors for at least seven hours a day, every day. This became a daily thing for me starting in March. I once made the mistake of walking to work in January or February when it was eight degrees outside. I was fooled by the fact that the sun was shining. I ran to work, out of actual pain and pure fear that my legs were going to get frostbite. I wore cropped leggings, a rookie mistake. I learned a hard lesson that day. After that, if the temperature was below freezing, I took the bus. That walk and those twenty minutes of personal time and solidarity, is something else I already miss. I never realized how important it was for my mental health to be outside, year-round, until I lived in Chicago. I took it for granted in Florida.
As soon as it began to warm up, it was amazing to be reminded how many people actually lived in the city. May was the most I had seen humans in months. Before there would be nobody outside except for the homeless and myself. Suddenly, it was Memorial Day weekend and I found myself on crowded sidewalks. Want to now how many times I was in the way? All of them. I was in the way every time.
As I’m reflecting on all this, I’m now wondering if because I knew Chicago would one day come to an end, I knew to appreciate every second of it. Usually, you don’t even know you’re living some of the best times of your life, until they’re over. This time I knew. It’s odd feeling nostalgic for a place, people, and a time while still living in it. When I think back on my time in Chicago, it will always come back to the people. The friends that visited, the friends I already had, and the friends I made. I truly can’t say enough about the people. Everything else was just a bonus.
What’s your favorite thing about Chicago? Or what was your favorite thing about reading this? Let me know if I left anything out!