Today is my 10th year anniversary of living in Chicago. Here are some facts and figures about what you can do in ten years in Chicago.
I’ve had 22 roommates. I had seven apartments. I dated 13 boys. I was in love four times. I had my heart broken once. I gained 35 pounds. I cut my bangs approximately 55 times.
I’ve worked for a law firm, for three restaurants, for myself, as a nanny, and at the Shedd Aquarium. I’ve been a PA, done voiceovers for ridiculous websites, cleaned houses and done street henna. I started stand up four years ago. I help run three of the best rooms in Chicago. I’ve eaten a shit load of hot dogs. I was in two bands. I graduated from the best art school in America.
I’ve been to both baseball stadiums. I’ve been backstage at Lollapalooza and Pitchfork, the Metro, Double Door, Bottom Lounge, Reggies, and smug loft spaces. I have lived with a snake, a chinchilla, three dogs, and four cats. I was attempted mugged once. I beat them up. That was my only fight. I went to therapy. I published writing. I made two totem poles. I cried a lot.
I lived in Lincoln Park, Wrigleyville, Downtown, North Center, Pilsen, Roscoe Village and Avondale. I grew a family of friends here. I can draw you a map of every apartment they ever lived in. I know what six corners really means. I know Elston is the fastest way to get anywhere during rush hour. I’ve looked into Bubbly Creek. I’ve made out on a roof. I got my art on TV. I made lots and lots of videos. I did a 72 hour film. I saw terrible performance art. I closed down bars.
I made almost no money. I’ve ridden every train line. I went to countless weddings. I got a niece and a nephew. My parents moved to a different state. I was on lots of podcasts. I got the front pages of websites. I was in a pilot. I left the midwest twice. I performed in a comedy competition. I helped paint the President’s campaign HQ mural. I made life long friendships with people I met on the bus.
I went to friendsgivings, white elephants, sweater parties, halloween parties, apple picking, watched fireworks on an Ashland avenue roof every Fourth of July, endless birthdays and a few funerals. I’ve eaten the best and the worst food in the city. I met famous people. I watched people become famous. I watched people fade away. I’ve helped friends with addictions. I know the best thrift spots in the city. I have cringed every single time someone has said Chi-town. I have sat in Millennium Park in the sunshine and cried because I am so very, very happy to be nobody and somebody in a very very big place.
There are sayings that it takes ten years to truly be a part of an urban community. There is so much that happens so often and so fast. Your circles start blending into larger circles, like amoebas, until every last person you know has dated that one guy you knew from that one place you used to party in Noble Square. Chicago has always been my favorite place to be. People ask when I’ll move to the coast and I tell them never. Or maybe when someone makes me. I mean it. I don’t want to leave, and my goals don’t reach over mountains.