I swore over and over again that I would never move to Chicago.
Like much of what comes out of the mouth of Windy City politicians, it was all bluster.
But it must have been convincing because most of what I've heard as my wife and I prepare to move in a few weeks is whether I'll be OK living in the big city.
Yes, mom, I'll be OK. Yes, mother-in-law, I'll be OK. I'm 30 years old and I survived living in an attic for two years in a city that has an annual turkey testicle festival. Compared to that, this will be a cool breeze off the lake.
I've actually come around to living in the city over the past few months despite my earlier protestations. I'm one of those people who loves change, loves to move and loves new places. I lived in at least eight different places before middle school and have never minded being uprooted. I would live anywhere in the United States or abroad. And this Chicago move is just another adventure. And one with at least three unique aspects I'm particularly looking forward to:
• Fantastic restaurants – Like thousands of other people, chef shows and the Food Network in general has turned me into a faux foodie. This is slightly unbelievable knowing that my stomach-approved food pyramid as a child consisted of macaroni and cheese, fish sticks, canned green beans, buttered bread and chocolate. Anything out of that pyramid was deemed toxic. But now, bring it on and I'll try it. Except for hamburger casserole. Still toxic. Oh, and turkey testicles. No, thank you, I'll pass. In any case, I love to try new foods and cool restaurants, and Chicago has plenty of both.
• Access to water – Part of the reason I'm so excited about the upcoming move is that my wife and I will be living on Lake Shore Drive with the north side of the lake in full view from our windows. As 50 might say, "I love water like a fat kid loves cake." I'm just a better person when I'm around water. I get most of my best writing done when near water as opposed to getting most of my best procrastination done when near home. It will be interesting to see what happens when we mix the two. And while the nearest access to the lake probably will be about a 30-minute walk away, I'll be happier just knowing it's there. Kind of like chocolate cake in the refrigerator. I don't necessarily need to eat it, but life is better knowing that it's near.
• Free events – I love going to events. But do you know what I love more than going to events? Not having to pay for them. And Chicago has plenty of them throughout the year, which is good because I still haven't made any money yet as a freelance writer and selling a book is a lengthy and unlikely process. Free is very good.
I'm sure there will be other positive aspects to Chicago, but let's start small, OK? I thought about putting being somewhat close to Wrigley Field on there as well, but I'm not sure whether that's a positive anymore. This will probably my first baseball season that I've not watched an entire game. Ah, the joys of being a Cubs fan.
Is it a little scary moving from the suburbs to the big city? Sure. It will be a big change, and the closest thing I can compare it to is living near downtown Orlando during the summer months when I was teenager, except that's like comparing swimming in a lake to swimming in the ocean.
But you know what? I love swimming in the ocean, and I'll come to love Chicago, as well. It certainly could be worse. Attics and turkey testicles. Just saying.
• Joe Grace is a writer and journalist who lives in Chicago with his wife. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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