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Posts Tagged ‘nature in the city’

As you may have picked on, in the last 6 months, my life has gone through a lot of changes.  I was pretty damn depressed, because of a lack of social support system in a woe-begotten city.  My job was overly demanding, and I was not healthy enough to deal with the stress of it.  So, I quit my job, I left that city, and I moved home.  I bought supplementary health insurance, got a refund on my car insurance, and devoted myself to full-time job searching.  I rented an apartment in the 3rd largest city in America with a good friend and within a couple months, I landed a good job in that city.  Now, I spend 5 days a week commuting an hour each way, morning and evening, to a job on the south side, while live 2 blocks from Lake Michigan on the north side.  It is a good life, but I never thought it would happen to me.  I also never thought that it would suit me.

Growing up, especially in high school, when we would caper “downtown”, I would find it exciting and rewarding to lead whatever group of friends to the right L stop and the right location.  It was something we would do with the tenuous permission of our parents and almost always in large groups.  I had my 18th birthday party at Ed Debevic’s (a trendy 1950’s-esque restaurant where the waiters are paid actors who give you a hard time and occasionally stop for dance numbers.)  It was exhilarating, gutsy, remote.  It was Chicago.  But I never even briefly considered living here.  I never gave colleges in the city the slightest consideration.  Frankly, I wanted to be further away from my parents than that.  I also wanted to be further away from my high school friends too.

So, I got away.  I spend 4 years in Grand Rapids for college, only returning to the Chicago area during the summer between my first and second years.  Subsequent summers took me to Japan, and Denver, and eventually (after graduating, Toledo.  Toledo was where I attended grad school, and the second summer there I spent part in the UK and the rest in San Francisco.  I was a world traveler, I was an absorber of metropolitan landscapes.  I was prepared to move anywhere, tackle any region, and make a place for myself there.

I took this optimism to Detroit and was met with apathy.  I really was mostly unable to find any like-minded people or at least people with similar interests.  Drama upon drama (and legitimate reasons) aside, I had to come back to Chicago. And I knew, for some reason, this was my time to live in Chicago.  To really get to know the city I had grown up so close to.

I was worried at first.  Having just come from a difficult situation, I knew I needed all the support I could get.  And I definitely needed a job.  But now that everything is in place, and I have a social network, a job, and enough activities, visitors, and errands to keep me comfortably busy, I feel very much at home. The thing is, I thought that the city would wear me out; I thought that I would get tired of being surrounded by people, sounds, and lights all the time.  But really, that hasn’t happened.  If it’s too loud at night, I stopper up my ears with earplugs.  If it’s too bright, with the city light pollution, I have an eyemask.  If I feel closed in by all the buildings, I just walk down to the lake front.  Rather than an enemy, the city skyline is a friend.  I greet the city each day exiting my stop on the red line.  Technically, I’ve just ridden under it, but seeing the skyline from that bridge makes me feel like the day has started and I can go on.  It’s anchoring.  It’s solid.  And for all intents and purposes, it’s a permanent thing.

I also thought I would miss nature.  I mean, walking through a quiet woods is something that really makes my soul feel peace and makes me feel centered and whole.  Well, turns out, Chicago has trees.  And parks, and a free zoo, and a nature preserve with numerous species of waterfowl.  It’s pretty damn peaceful.  Even walking through a quiet street can be spiritually edifying.  I do miss the woods, but I’m not suffering or displaced.  If all else fails, I can sneak out to the suburbs and sit on my folks’ patio and watch the creek creep by.

So, here I am, sitting in the city of Chicago, in my apartment, with all my stuff.  There is no way I would complain about how things have turned out.  I’m so glad I had the strength to do difficult things and take care of myself over my career or other people’s feelings.  Careers are made up anyway.  You can form a career, but no one really needs one.  And I’m always scheming ways to start a new one.  It’s exciting.

As always, I appreciate your comments.  Cheers.

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