My roommate and I were walking along the streets of Chicago, talking about the imminent winter weather, which is late to arrive this year. I had just returned from my holiday visit home in Los Angeles, where I soaked up 80-degree sunshine in the week after New Year’s Day. As we walked and talked, she said, “I know this is not exactly where you want to be right now, but we’re glad to have you back.”
I quickly and kind of awkwardly corrected her. “No, no…” I demanded, “I do want to be here.”
I thought to myself, “What must I have said that would have given the impression that I didn’t want to be here?” As I thought about that, it occurred to me that my family and friends in LA may have gotten the impression that I didn’t want to be there either; that I would rather be in Chicago.
And now the truth: I want them both. I belong to both cities.
Growing up in Los Angeles, with the beauty of the California mountains and beaches, my big, beautiful constantly growing and changing family, and a sprinkling of friends whose existences help me to be a better person, I cannot ever fully leave the City of Angels. Pieces of my heart are there permanently.
Simultaneously, I want to be here. Very much. I am still enamored of Chicago. I love where I live and the people I live with. The friends I knew before and the new people I am meeting make this city an exciting place to be. I love that public transportation and walking are normal means of getting around. It warms my heart to know that I can call friends in the neighborhood to meet up and play darts at a pub between our places. Guitar classes, live music, art, comedy and beer and hot dogs. This is culture, people! I am exploring, both outwardly and inwardly, learning new things about what I’m capable of, finding confidences that were buried deep under insecurities and fear of failure. Shedding some of the layers, figuratively, while literally piling layers on. (Since the outing with my roommate, winter has finally arrived).
People keep asking me where I think I’ll be after I graduate from my masters program and I truthfully cannot answer that. I don’t know. Right now, I am satisfied with belonging to both the City of Angels and the City of Big Shoulders. One day, though, they may have to duel for me.