Chicago is an old friend of mine. I've been here more times than I can count. It’s proximity and it being home to many people in my family being the main reasons, but this destination has a multitude to offer just about anyone. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know Chicago a lot of different ways: as a first time tourist, with friends, with my family, with a loved one, on my own as a local, as an aspiring career woman... It's where I've attended weddings, celebrated birthdays, interviewed for jobs and escaped for girls trips.
I’ve braced the frigid wind walking to my CTA stop in the snow to catch a flight home from O’Hare, only to have it cancelled and extend my stay for 3 days. I’ve brunched with family and friends at dozens of the unique eateries Chicago has to offer (and still feel as if I haven’t even put a dent in the options).
I spent one of my last visits with my grandmother here. We rode to the top of the John Hancock building- ears popping on the way up and then stared out over Lake Michigan together. I stood by her wheelchair as we watched the dolphins at Shedd Aquarium. I rode in my first ‘big city’ taxi down Michigan avenue with her.
I came as a fresh, naive girl for some of my first post- college interviews at prominent magazines, terrified and exhilarated all at once. I’ve bundled up on a snowy night for an authentic Nepalese dinner with my family. I’ve drank an Ole Style while cheering on the Cubs at Wrigley. I’ve had an ice cream cone while watching the Sox at US Cellular. I’ve counted down to midnight and greeted a New Year in the heart of downtown. I’ve sang along with 65,000 people at a concert at Soldier Field. I’ve had a love affair with deep dish pizza. I’ve taken cliche pictures of my reflection in “The Bean” in Millennium Park. I’ve spent a romantic weekend with someone I love eating Italian food in Gold Coast and holding hands while we roamed the streets and found cheap beer in Lincoln Park.
While I’ve never lived here, I’ve grown up with Chicago. It’s seen me mature in all aspects of my life: relationally, professionally, and personally. It’s given me countless memories that are sacred to me and that I'll cherish forever. It's seen me change from a young girl into the person I am today.
Like I said, Chicago is my old friend, and I love when we get to catch up. I love seeing all of it's new: the restaurants, the teeth my cousins have lost that are growing back in, or the current art installation in Millennium Park. But I love how it makes me recognize all of my own new too. I have shorter hair. I've gotten a promotion at work. I have a wrinkle that's setting in deeper every day. I have more scars and more wisdom and more dreams and collectively, more beauty.
Our relationship is like a fine wine that gets better with age. I'm so thankful for all the memories Chicago has given me. That there are way too many of them to fit into a blog post. But I'm also thankful for all the ones yet to be made. I'm confident we have some pretty great ones ahead of us still.