Chicago: What I didn't know

Welcome to Chicago!  What's your story?  What's your dream? We've all got a dream.

For some, a dream will indefinitely remain just that in either simplistic or the unrestrained perception.   For me, I know it will evolve existence and spread like the wild fire of 1871.

My new home!

I am no stranger to change but this is by far the biggest move  I have ever made.  I made the decision based on the account that Houston just wasn't cutting it for this feisty fire starter.  While I made some great friends and had a blast training and working with many of the local athletes, my visions of success was some how stunted.  I stumbled upon an incredible career opportunity via a dear friend, Kamal, whom I met in Dallas in 2008.   We have grown closer over the years with little face time.   In my darkest hour I reached out to him for the kind of support few can furnish and behold the opportunity presented itself.  It was a little over 18 days that my superficial possessions were sold and all that was left of my swaggering style now grass roots girl, her dog, and a 10 foot Uhaul were headed north.  Two days on the road and a very long intermission in Memphis brought some clarity and a melange of  palpability as to who I am and where I am going.   I revisited every step of some difficult  life altering decisions I have made and some, not quite so difficult.   I figure that you don't know where you are going until you know where you've been.  It was the most surreal 21 hours of my life pervading emotional breakdowns, mental uncertainty and  thrills of  new conviction.  It was all coming together.

We arrived Wednesday , December 28th and an aire of cautious relief soaked my skin.   I unpacked the truck, unpacked my new life and packed in the professional and social scene.  I met with old friends, made some new ones and found myself in a world I'm too unfamiliar.  The faces came and went, but not a single eye contact or gesture was made by the locals.  This seemed irregular to my roots of  southern hospitality.   Appalling as it seemed, I still wondered what was on the occupied minds of the passer-bys and why the only olive branch extended was by the coffee shop  (Ipsento) barista.   He complemented my accent, however geographically inaccurate, and fell in love with Bella.   He told me of the best bargain shops, where to get a good "northern" coat, and, of course, where the dog parks were positioned.  I  did shop those places, got a good coat and gloves, and took Bella to the park.  Still the swift rhythm of Chi- town seemed no place for me...until I let it in.

Chi-town only builds "up"
Favorite little java shop
Dinner at Ditka's with Uncle D
First night in town @ Belly Shack

I found that the people of Chicago are closed off, they drink and smoke and are ferocious food snobs.   What kind of place doesn't have a Whataburger or bluebell ice cream or a Luke's Locker?  Defeated.  I continued the observations of my little neighborhood: hap hazardous wastes on the side walk, stray cabs changing lanes and nearly swiping cyclists, bartenders demanding they are "craft" not "drink slingers" and general brutish attitudes  that would send wild animals tail tucked back to the forest. 

I was all wrong.

Chicago is the city of motivation, the city of innovation, the city of invention- and from what I deduce, the most authenti-city I have experienced.   I was in the wrong view and needed to make the switch to panoramic.   I  had placed Chicago in the Texas box.  Round hole square peg.  Let me slide up and right a  thousand miles and actually get out of Texas.   My bet is Peru doesn't have Whataburger either, so why would I care if Chi-town doesn't ?  The litter I see on the side walk is opportunity for a single mom's 14 year to earn some extra money for the family.  The stray cabs and daring cyclists are deliberate and even predictable and share the same cause: "get to work".  Chicago is full of people who focus their sights on their work.  It doesn't matter if you are an executive, a teacher or a gypsy.  The pride Chicago-ites take in their careers is astonishing, which is why I owe an apology to the "bartenders".    It is a craft, especially in this town, to see the lengths they go to for creating something jenn-uine :) and marketable to their guests  from behind the bar , on the service floor and  buried in the kitchen.  I was wrong in accusing the brutish attitudes, we all have our opinions it is likely that Chicago just allows them be exposure in lieu of hiding behind fear of judgement.   I was right, however,  they are food snobs.  Every damn place I have eaten has been mind blowing.  Every thing has  it's own confidence, it's own kick, it's own elixir.  I owe a sincere thank you for all the fortitude it takes to be the peacock in the flock.

Blue 13
Blue 13
The Craft @ Karyn's on Green

When I accepted my erroneous perspective,  I fell in love with this city.  People aren't rude and really, the south has the hospitality but the "north"  ( or Midwest as they call it) has the in-jenn-uity.   It has charm and free spirit and honesty.  It has taken a weight off my shoulders so heavy I thought I might collapse under it's heft.   I wear what I want, I eat what I like, I run where my feet take me and I have realized my kind of city.

Mikey, Greg and me NYE 2011
Kamal and me NYE 2011


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  • Welcome to Chicago and ChicagoNow. I think we have a better song than Houston too.

  • There is definitely a different song for Chicago. HOuston has a great beat, but I have any affiniity for this genre!

  • Welcome to Chicago and congratulations on your move!

    I really liked your post, especially your third paragraph which sounds like would make a great chapter in an interesting book.

    Good luck with your journey though Chicago. Although it can be bumpy at times, it's a fun ride. Looking forward to your next post.

  • Welcome!!!!

  • Thank You for all the hospitality and warm welcome! I can't wait to see where Ican take this! Happy Friday!

  • When I first came to the States I lived in the south and was constantly putting my foot in my mouth. Just couldn't get the "subtleties" and I'm sure they didn't appreciate my "frankness". In Chicago, although people can still be guarded and politically-correct at times, you can say what you think a lot more, and there aren't as many silly social rules.

  • I made the move from Chicago to Texas ... Fort Worth to be exact... I was driven by circumstances that temporarily clouded my judgement .. I have repented, however, and will be coming back home a year and 3 months after my move.. I loved your article... There is absolutely no place like home ..

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