Northern California vs. Chicago

Northern California vs. Chicago

Having lived most of my life in Chicago, and 8 years in Southern California, many people asked why on earth I would ever move back here.  Sometimes when I’m sitting through these horrible winters and visiting Newport Beach on Spring Break, I often ask myself the same thing.

I just got back from a week in San Francisco with my family and had an incredible time.  But it helped me to realize, there are some differences that help tip the scales in Chicago’s favor.

Chicagoans are smarter. We were standing on a corner and as we successfully maneuvered traffic and arrived safely across the road, I had a small crowd of people just stare at me.  Being the shy and demure one I am, I shrugged with my hands up and said, “WHAT”?  A few people said, you walked without the person.  At first I had no idea what they were talking about, but didn’t take long to realize they were talking about the walk and don’t walk illuminated pictures attached to the traffic lights.  I just replied, “We’re pretty smart in Chicago, we can figure out all by ourselves if cars are coming or not”.

They like dogs more than children. I’m a huge dog lover, so I can understand this to an extent.  However I find it amazing that almost all of the hotels allow dogs.  EVERYONE has a dog attached to them while walking and they’re almost all golden retrievers.  I saw one woman pushing a stroller with a two-year-old child walking along side, yep, you guessed it, a tiny dog was kicking back for the ride.  One night we were at a nice Italian restaurant and a man was eating his pasta, then feeding his dog off of the same fork.

Initials rule the land. Every establishment that serves food, also comes with: V, G, S, LF, etc.  All the food is either Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Sugar Free, Low Fat…..  It does make it easier to live a healthier lifestyle.  However, if you don’t live by the initials, you’re judged heavily.  We walked into a vegan, gluten-free, low sugar bakery and the man said, “do you know it’s 8 in the morning and your children are drinking Slurpees?”  My husband told them it was OK because we’re from the Midwest.

Plastic on the outside, aggressive terrors on the inside. We stayed at a resort that offered exercises classes.  I took an aerobic judo class.  The ladies were perfectly put together completely adorned in lululemon.  Nothing jiggled when they jumped or cracked when they smiled.  I felt like I was among the stepford wives.  However, I didn’t realize there was a combat portion where you were to lightly tap your partner.  These plastic princesses started full on punching.  I walked out of there with huge bruises and scratches all over my arms.

Nobody is in a hurry. Normally a good thing, but since you have to stop for pedestrians and they don’t wait for a break in the traffic, they just walk on the road wherever they see a crosswalk (of course there’s no light to tell them when to go or not go, so they just step out as soon as they see the white lines).   You have to come to a screeching halt and they really take their time checking out what’s around them before each step.

There are so many things to love about California, and it will most likely always be our vacation destination of choice, but given the choice of residency, I’d pick Chicago every time.





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  • What's always tipped it for me has been I love how comfortable Chicagoans are in their own skin. Plus you get a lot of respect traveling abroad when all people know about your town is Michael Jordan and Al Capone.

  • In reply to ThirdCoastVince:

    Ahh - you just made a great point and one I can't believe I forgot. EVERY time I said I was from Chicago, the person said, "Oh, the East Coast - love that place".

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