I have now lived in Chicago for almost two years. I have to admit I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like living in major metropolitan city like Chicago. I grew up in a small town called Friday Harbor (link) which was on an island of about 5000 people. I did spend half of the 90’s living in Seattle, but compared to Chicago its just a little fishing village.
I have to say that for my first year here I didn’t really like the place. It was just too big. My wife would have to drag me downtown to go to the Taste, or the blues concerts at Grant Park. Living in Lakeview at the time I thought anything west of I-90 was the concrete boondocks. Outside of Hyde Park (where I studied theology) I still don’t know what’s up with the southside. I figured Irving Park was where the city ended on the North.
Now I love this place. The turning point was I discovered how lively the local music scene is. I have been in places in Lincoln Square watching post-punk bluegrass bands, listened to revolutionary folk musicians up in Roger’s Park, great blues rock down in the South Loop, trippy spiritual punk by Lakeview, and Wicker Park has all sorts of musicians and artist working and living here.
I’ve also begun to appreciate all the activists in our town. If the revolution is going to start someplace, Chicago has got to be as good a place as any. I even met an actual communist the other day, and I don’t mean one of those dudes whose in his 90’s and will rail about American Imperialism if you accidentally make eye contact, although I’ve met them too. I have gotten to know a lot of folks who care about the biggest issue of them all, the Earth. I also been impressed with people working on affordable housing, homeless youth, aids, gay rights, health care, and with our local Senator Obama now running for president it seems like getting involved in politics has become as common as is in, well, a democracy.
But what has really helped me fall in love with the city is the people. I meet really cool people here practically every day. Some are trippy, some are educated, some think its still the sixties, some are sports fans, and some can tell you where you can order a one dollar beer. But what I love is that each person has their own unique take on their “part” of the city, and what makes them such a fan of all the cool stuff and places there.
Through the people I have gotten to know the soul of Chicago, and that is what I’ve fallen in love with. Of course I still couldn’t tell you what’s going on in Beverly, Bronzeville, or all those other southside neighborhoods. But that’s what’s great about Chicago. You can make it as big or as small as you want. You can take in as much of it as you can handle, and there will always be more. I can’t think of a better city to live in, to love, and to serve.