chi town let down?

soooo. its been about 2 weeks being back in chicago. i bitched and moaned to no end when we moved to seattle 3 years ago about how hopelessly suburban it was, how disgustingly idyllic it was and how i couldn't wait to get back to my life in chicago...to our family, friends, our professional network etc. etc. the truth is by the time we were leaving seattle my feelings had become quite mixed. i mean it is SO incredibly lush, beautiful topographically and sweet in its intimacy. and somehow in all my cynicism i managed to make some really good friends who will be sorely missed. its small enough to feel like you can make a mark...you know, "the big fish in the little pond" idea i guess.

being in chicago the first week i think was a serious let down. though we came here for an "opportunity". our apt. was "not quite right". the neighborhood, well we're on the "not yet" gentrified side (which is both good and bad, depending on how you look at it), the city in general..well, big, loud, cold and dirty. what the hell did i do. is this really what i want? i thought. but i was saying to my husband yesterday, as i've walked and driven around a bit more...i'm remembering, that that what i saw as idyllic in seattle bothered me so much because it became SO comfortable and safe which somehow scares me.

here its different, there's so much SHIT in this city that keeps you angry that it keeps you on your toes...wanting to do something about it. i don't mean, angry in a lets just walk around and be toxic way but in an inspiring way...a way that stirs your creative juices...makes you envision something new, and better and try to figure out how to make that happen. don't get me wrong...seattle has its certain grit to it...its by no means perfect...but its issues seem less glaring and on a much more minor level making for a totally different and in general "better" quality of life.

quality of life is an interesting concept though b/c for instance, culturally, man, it is a relief to be here. i forgot what its like to just SEE black and latino people EVERYWHERE...and not have to 'schedule in such encounters. that does something for your psyche. so our building is uncomfortably close to the adjacent ones, and our doorstep is littered with 30 flyers everyday, and being that its winter in chicago, it looks gray and barren...no leaves or grass and my black car is perpetually gray with salt and grime, oh and i have to travel 25 min. each way for my kid to have access to the bilingual montessori education that i seek...no walking around the corner to school anymore (or to the doctor/hospital, major grocery store or gym for that matter). BUT somehow, i think life is richer here. more complete. more "real". and in that sense i am happy to be home. i think its interesting that my son hasn't said boo about seattle. he's SO happy to be here, its like his intuition tells him the same thing i'm trying to analyze and decipher. its a complicated and mixed emotional puzzle and only time will tell if the pieces are in the right place.


Blogger John said...

I've never thought of Chicago as dirty. Sure, it's not as clean as cities like Tokyo or Vienna, but it's not New York City, and I haven't been to Seattle to compare the two like you can. But perhaps I've just gotten used to it over the last ten or so years. Or perhaps I'm living and working on the "right side of the tracks". To me, even the alleys can be cleaner than some NYC sidewalks. About the most glaring "SHIT" I can think of are the subways. The L stations are pretty clean all around but the subway stations (at least the ones that haven't undergone renovations recently) are quite grimey and dank. But even with those I'm used to them. Maybe you just need a little bit o' time to get reacclimated...welcome home!

Blogger yamani said...

thanks for the welcome =). i grew up here and i never thought it was dirty until i lived in seattle for about 3 months. even in the "dirtiest" places in seattle are compensated for by majestic skies and phenomenal mountains. you're right though...its nowhere near the level of dirt in places like philly or new york.
the "shit" i was reflecting on at that particular moment are the scores of debilitated, impoverished, vacant and trash ridden blocks on the west side that i drive through everyday on my way to oak park. i've seen low income neighborhoods in other part of the city too that make me angry i grew up in south shore which has its desirable and undesirable parts but this is just what i'm seeing a lot of these days. according to my sister, "i done gone up to seattle and 'got bougie' "...i don't know about all that but there will indeed be a reacclimation process. i'm almost there though =). i'm a huge fan of chicago. its in my blood and i'll defend it always.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im feeling that!
On a recent visit back to the Chi I thought it was immaculate compared to nyc.
For now Im good with the grime.

Enjoy home. Moving back to the Chi is something I often contemplate yet cant fathom.

did u get this?

Anonymous Max said...

me above...

Blogger archiblogger said...

I am glad to hear you are enjoying chicago (i think). we certainly miss you in seattle!!

I see you point about the idyllic Seattle. I love it in Seattle, but I definitely miss the grittinss and "shit" that a real city has to offer. I don't think Seattle is real city yet, nor do I think that Seattlites want it to become one. When you ask someone what they like about the "city" of Seattle they almost always mention the mountains, the sound, etc. But, that is not a city, that is a landscape surrounding a settlement of people. A city is the civitas, the public ammenities, and most importantly the mixture of strangers. The smallness and sameness of Seattle prevent true interaction with strangers.

I hope you enjoy Chicago again like you did before you left. Who knows, you'll probably grow to enjoy it more now that you've seen the 'other' side.

BTW, my parents enjoy after just moving there.

ps...scooter sends his love. :)


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