I moved to Chicago ten years ago today. Groundhog Day 2004. I was 23 years old. 23! An age where you jump without looking and worry about how you're going to land on your way down. Maybe I work best under pressure. Or maybe I was just young, hopeful and naive.
I've had three real boyfriends, two full time jobs, three part time ones, six apartments, two writing gigs, 9 Lollapaloozas and two mayors. I went through some rough times along the way, as any person would over a decade, but I also made some really great memories and great friends, and found the guy that I hope to make the rest of life’s big memories with.
When I moved here from Missouri, my parents wondered aloud why I went north, given that I hate cold weather, but I had my sights set on the big city. I was enamored by any place where you could get everywhere by subway and didn’t need a car. Well, I haven’t owned a car in more than nine years, but I have developed a special kind of detestation for the Chicago Transit Authority. I've also lived through blizzasters, snowpocalypses, thundersnow, snowbrawls and built up an arsenal of winter gear. And you know what, I love it. If it’s going to snow, be record breaking amounts of snow. If it’s going to be cold, let it be so crazy cold that it gets a villainous name like Polar Vortex. I hate that it hurts to go outside, I hate that my fingers go numb, and I get real tired of the bundling up come March, but winters here take hearty folks and create a sense of community like no other.*
So go ahead and visit in the summer months and enjoy the music festivals, street fests, food fests, parks, restaurants, museums, friendly confines, thing we “affectionately call Bean” and beaches that have water on one side and a famous city skyline on the other, but if you want to know what it’s like to really appreciate those things, you’ve gotta spend all four seasons here.
I’ve looked forward to this milestone because somehow I decided that’s the point that get to call myself a real Chicagoan. And how will I commemorate this decadeversary? By doing the one Chicago thing that I somehow managed to miss out on for ten years: going to the top of the Sears** Tower!
*I’ll admit that this winter in particular has been especially challenging, and you know how I know that? Because I’ve been here for ten of them.