Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why I Love Living in Chicago

It's a big city that often feels like a small town.  You can be anonymous if you want, but all it takes is a little friendliness and suddenly you know all of your neighbors the first night you move in.

We really take advantage of our summers.  Sure, they can be short, but no where else offers as much fun packed into so few months.  There's a festival every weekend, and no end of strange and fun activities to participate in (meatloaf cook-offs, protests, hipster versions of The Pirates of Penzance* and other odd plays, architectural boat tours, flashmobs, and segway tours,** to name but a few).

Beautiful beaches and gorgeous lakefront a mere 3 blocks from our door.

The Red Line has the most entertaining people watching I have ever experienced.  No where else can you experience political grand standing, Bible thumping preaching, frenzied gambling, drunken baseball fan debauchery, and the full gamete of weird outfits, hairdos, and accessories (stuffed bird perched on someone's shoulder, thong jeans, a cheek piercing) in only a few short stops.

A good mix of nationalities, cultures, values, and races.  Our neighborhood hosts people of every hue and nationality.  Within a small block radius, we can choose to eat Turkish, gourmet, Ethiopian, Mediterranean, Greek, Chicago hot dogs, Mexican, Indian, Thai, and Italian.  It is so much easier to embrace differences and appreciate uniqueness when people become your friends and neighbors.

Unlike NYC, we have alleys to put our garbage in so it's not on the front curb.

Green space.  It seems as if nearly all of the city's residents truly appreciate plants and flowers.  As soon as the weather permits, people are digging in the dirt to plant gorgeous things in every available nook and cranny.  I have seen flowers planted in tires, bathtubs, and buckets.  Better yet, I've seen vacant lots turned into garden plots for the neighborhood to tend vegetables while it is waiting to be sold!  What a great deal between owner and residents!   

Environmental appreciation is growing here.  The recycling program is supported.  The city encourages (and subsidizes) its citizens to use rain barrels and compost bins (we have both).  There are many bike lanes, and it is easy to get anywhere in the city by bike, L, or bus.  In fact, most of the time it's far preferable to driving because it's usually faster, especially when you factor in finding-a-parking-spot time.

A lot of people complain about the long, cold winter (including my husband), but I don't mind it too much. The apocalyptic snowstorms don't happen every year, but when they do, you get days off of work and neighborhood snow shoveling parties.

*Which was awesome! Their outfits were truly odd and there was a girl playing a handsaw, people. WORTH IT!

**I don't care if these are common to other cities, it's still a ridiculous concept, especially when you see them wearing their neon orange safety vests as they motor around Millennium Park. Really? You can't just walk?

Photo of Downtown Chicago, by me.

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