Chicago: Why I live here and why I stay

Chicago: Why I live here and why I stay

I was born in 1957 at Wesley Memorial Hospital in Chicago. My parents lived on the West Side, then moved to West Rogers Park at Devon and Sacramento when I was a toddler. In 1963 we moved to Niles; in 1976 to Northbrook and then I made my way around the suburbs on my own. So for 56 years, I have lived either in or around Chicago.

This winter is kicking my ass. I know I'm hardly alone in this feeling but I am married to a man that grew up in Orlando FL. For him, living here is like being in hell. He has endured half as many winters as I have but lately I find myself feeling as miserable as he is. This morning I was watching him shovel and snow blow for well over an hour and not looking very happy. Who does?

When you are born and raised in an environment where winter is part of your life, you get used to it. It's just a way of life; you know it's coming. You usually think you know what to expect. However, we can safely say this winter is an exception. It seems as though we are in a black hole of cold and snow that we cannot escape.

In December when I had surgery I could not really do anything for the first few weeks. It was cold and snowy and I felt like a prisoner. How I longed for warm air and sunshine - at least if I had that I could have spent time in my yard reading a book, enjoying the outdoors.  Last week I had the good fortune to spend seven days in Mexico in eighty two degree, sunny weather. It was sheer heaven. It made me wonder why in the world I continue to stay in Chicago.

Throughout the winter I see Facebook posts from people that live in warm areas. They seem to enjoy rubbing it in to us cold weather dwellers that they are luckier than us. Well, there are reasons we stay here.

My reasons may differ from others. First and foremost I stay here because of family. Despite my father living in Madison, WI, I am still close enough to visit by car. When my husband moved here, he didn't realize the ramifications of moving 1,200 miles from his family. As his mother aged (no Dad), he felt more and more regret for having left Florida. It wasn't always easy to get there. Unlike myself, he couldn't just hop in a car and visit her in a couple of hours. It took airfare for four and time off of work to visit.

I could never leave my girls. If they would be willing to move away from their jobs, friends and significant others I might consider it. But then I still could not move far away from my father, or my siblings. I am a creature of habit; I love the familiarity of my surroundings.

I have built a career here. My husband has a business. To walk away from those things which keep us deeply entrenched would be risky in today's economy. We have a good thing here financially. We work hard and are rewarded. This may not be the case elsewhere. We can't trade warm weather for our livelihoods. Maybe when we retire and making a living is no longer an issue. Yet even then, we would only be snowbirds, flying South for the winter.

I love the culture and deep, rich history of Chicago. I love all that this city of ours has to offer. I have lived here forever yet I still marvel at the skyline every single time I drive in. I am amazed at the sheer magnitude of it; the architecture, the liveliness. It is a City that is hard to leave!

So while you warm weather residents keep digging at us that you have it better, that may not be the case. We all live here for reasons you may not understand. But they are OUR reasons and you....well, you can just suck it.

My kind of town. Chicago is.

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