This post is part of The Heart of Chicago Series that will be running on South of I-80 for the month of March. This post is brought to you by my dear friend and godmother to one of my children, Jaclyn Mullooly.
By Jaclyn Mullooly
I love Chicago. I've lived in the city, well, just outside of the city, in what we like to call "Chicagoland" my entire life.
What is it about Chicago that I love? Is it the bumper to bumper traffic when I drive into the city on the Ryan? Is it the polar vortex winters and the hotter than Haiti summers? Is it the bitter rivalry between the obnoxious Cubs and the obvious champions, the Sox? Is it the never-ending, constantly falling, feet upon feet of snow? Is it the horrible parking, or the "better take out a second mortgage" parking rates, fees and fines?
Yes, what is it about the Windy City that keeps me so in love?
While the items listed above, ahem, or rather, annoyances listed above are certainly not ones that I love, they are still a part of what make Chicago home for me. I suppose they are things I love to hate. I could complain all day about the frigid winters, but I would never move. I could curse up and down in my car, questioning which idiot politician was paid off by the idiot driver in front of me to get their license, but would I ever stop driving the Dan Ryan? It's the only expressway I would ever want to take. And yes, the Cubs vs. Sox rivalry is so old, it's cliche. But I would never stop defending the black and white against the drunk and disorderly. There's this intangible "feeling" of home that Chicago offers me, a comfort and familiarity that no other place or city in the world has ever provided.
I lived abroad with my family for a brief time. After my husband and I were married, we moved to London for six months. Then, after my daughter was born, we moved our little family to Melbourne, Australia, for a year. These experiences were nothing short of incredible, amazing, and fantastic. I really could go on about them. Living abroad has a way of broadening your perceived ideas of the world. It makes you more appreciative of what you have at home and more understanding and tolerant of the differences that exist everywhere, even at home. And when you do finally leave these places to return home, you leave with the memories of a lifetime, having seen, done, and experienced what very few Americans have.
I suppose that is what is so amazing, wonderful, and why Chicago is my kind of town. It's multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, but everyone who calls this place home belongs. It's like being a part of a family. No one is perfect, and we all have our family dramas, but you're born into a family, just like you are a city, and nothing can break that bond.
Of course, aside from the "annoyances" that I love to hate, there are also the experiences that I love to love. Chicago's rich diversity opens the doors to numerous summer weekend festivals. There are also the well-known tourist destinations like Navy Pier, Sears Tower (notice I didn't write Willis), and Grant Park. Another great part of Chicago is how expansive it is. According to Wikipedia, the Chicago metropolitan area (aka "Chicagoland"), is 10,856 square miles in area. Because Chicago includes not only the downtown area, but neighboring communities, towns and suburbs, this gives way to having at least five or six options of things to do on any given weekend. And that's on a slow weekend!
There is so much to love about Chicago, it just makes my heart smile, my limbs tingle, my feet dance. Of course, that love is always brought back down to reality when I'm running 7 minutes late for an expired meter and I see that bright orange-colored envelope underneath my wiper blade. Here's to another check written out to the City of Chicago!
Jaclyn Mullooly is a south side resident who has recently left the glamorous life as a liturgical minister at Old St. Patrick's Church in Chicago. In addition to taking advantage of all Chicago has to offer, Jaclyn is also busy taking care of her daughter and being wife of the year to her adoring husband.
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