I remember when I was a man buried in the foliage of northern Minnesota, studying theatre and looking at some pictures a friend of mine had taken of Chicago. “Looks interesting,” I said. Subtext: Yuuuuuck! It looks like a never ending maze of concrete, brick, and smoke stacks. Who in the world would want to live there? Let alone visit?
Five years later, there I was, traversing that very same maze of brick and concrete I had degraded on the shores of Lake Bemidji. I was living in Chicago.
I recently took a week long vacation out to the Pacific Northwest with my girlfriend Colleen. We ate many pounds of seafood and hiked around a few mountains. And I was lucky enough to visit some old friends in Portland. “How is living in Chicago?” they inquired exuberantly. “Great,” I said, “But I no longer live in Chicago. I moved to Minneapolis in February.”
I have been trying to write about my move from Chicago to Minneapolis for sometime; two months to be exact. But I couldn’t it. I was stuck. I was trying to be too sentimental about it. Deeeeeeply sentimental, touching, and moving about my leaving Chicago. Trying to be sentimental about the city made of bricks and concrete. Trying to be sentimental about the city with broad shoulders, gritty ambition in it’s heart, and hard-work mud under it’s finger nails. I am a sentimental person, but Chicago is not a sentimental place. Living in Portland could be described a little like living in a world of fiction, with moss filled forests and snow peaked mountains encompassing your panorama. In that way, living in Chicago was like living in the facts of life.
No, not those Facts of Life.
There’s a desire in me to fill you in on what I mean by this (the city of facts vs the city of fiction). But I’m afraid I don’t have the words. I trust you can fill in the blanks.
I’ll leave you with the most important and non-sentimental fact of all: Pickle spear, relish, tomatoes, onions, celery salt, sport peppers, mustard. That is what you put on a hot dog. And I swear if you put ketchup on my vienna beef sausage I will punch you in the dick. Farewell, Chicago. It’s safe to say you’ve left your mark.
I love Chicago.