I lived in Chicago and its suburbs for about sixteen years of my childhood so it is the place I call “home.” I haven't been to the city since my family moved away in 2004. After a fourteen year absence, I finally returned for a visit in June. It was strange being back in this city. Even though much has changed, it’s what has stayed the same that amazed me. The red brick Chicago two-flat buildings marching down streets lined with trees. The small stores and restaurants that make the different neighborhoods uniquely vibrant.
And of course the L trains clacking on their elevated tracks. Passing buildings built alongside them reminded me of the first apartment I lived in after college. The rent was $175.00 a month, and all the window and door frames were off kilter because of the rumbling every few minutes each day. If I was on the phone, I'd have to suspend the conversation until the train went by.
One new surprise for me was the American Writers Museum. This small museum is filled with exhibits including one with old-fashioned typewriters on which visitors can compose collaborative stories and poetry. I had only a short time there, but plan to return. I recommend this one of a kind museum to anyone who is interested in words.
Perhaps I saw Chicago with the misty eyes of nostalgia. I know this is a city with deep problems, just like any community. But for that short visit it was easy for me to overlook those to see the good side of the Windy City. It’s a beautiful place with culture, art and some of the best architecture and public art in the country. For that visit, it was still my town.