October 29, 2010
This weekend will mark two months of my living in Chicago, which means that I’ve already been here for a third of my intended six month stay. To celebrate this milestone, how about a recap of the past eight weeks?
I really like Chicago. I mean, I really really like it. I honestly cannot imagine a better, more epitomic American city. It fully embodies exactly what I’ve always thought a metropolis could and should be. Chicago is simply a great town. And the experience as a whole has been as contrary and different as I’d hoped it would be.
Having come two months into my time here, it’s becoming increasingly fascinating to look back on my time in Chicago. The more time that passes, the more perspective I have on the infant stages of the journey. Even in the short amount of time so far, there are several distinct stages that I can identify though I was largely oblivious to them at the time.
The first few weeks could best be described as disorientated. I was grappling with my complete lack of stability, routine, home, familiarity and purpose. I had a small trickle of freelance work, but not a steady job. I had no friends, events, groups or any other identity here. I’d wake up in the morning, lay in a strange bed, and have no idea what I was going to do once I finally got up. But since everything was new and fresh, I was able to keep myself distracted from having to face a lot of the confusion by walking or riding around various neighborhoods of the city.
Fortunately, two weeks after moving, I got the job where I’m still working. I only found out about it three days before I started, but the addition of that constant and the routine that came with it helped me to break out of the somewhat lethargic and purposeless state that marked the first few weeks.
The next month saw me slipping deeper into routine and comfort with the city. I became very familiar with what would become my stomping grounds – an area probably a mile squared, with my apartment sitting at the far north end. 90% of the time, I was either at work, at home, walking the mile between the two, or on Rush or State Street between Division and Chicago (about a half-mile stretch). I became a regular at two Starbucks, a Chipotle, a Walgreens and a Jewel grocery.
I’ve always been a creature of habit, and this adventure clearly hasn’t changed that. I thrive on familiarity and a certain level of predictable routine. It was only natural for me to create and hold onto as much of that as I could here where familiarity is a rare commodity.
But one of the main reasons I’m here at all was out of a desire to break out of familiarity and routine. There’s nothing inherently wrong with those things, but they can turn into blinders. Since the area I’ve been frequenting makes up 0.2% of the total area of Chicago, I think it’s safe to say that’s the case here. So, with that realization and a few other factors, I feel myself moving into a new phase.
But that’s conversation for another day, I think.