I’m watching the local news, and they’re showing a shot of the Edens Expressway. It is a solid line of cars, because they’re doing some kind of roadwork (6:15 a.m. is the PERFECT time of day to jackhammer some concrete). These shots of cars burning three buck-a-gallon gas while idling on the parking lots known as roads in Chicago are a daily fixture of life here in the Chicago area. The underbuilt roads are one of the worst parts of life here – too many cars all vying for asphalt time.
So if the roads are one of the worst parts of Chicago life, what are some of the pleasures of living here? I’m not shilling for the department of tourism. I’m writing as someone living in the metropolitan area, just like 10 million-ish others do. So…in no particular order…
(1) The skyline. Stunning. It never fails to take my breath away. I’ve lived here most of my life and I never get tired of seeing it.
(2) Hot dogs. Italian beef. Deep dish pizza.
(3) Unusually terrible sports teams most of the time. Think fo the Michael Jordan-era Bulls, the 1985 Bears and the 2005 White Sox as abberations. After all, if I, a casual sports fan at best, can quote you names and years of winning teams, it’s because those come few and far between here. There’s a weird psychology of suffering at work if you’re a Chicago sports fan.
(4) Ethnic diversity. I live in a suburb, which typically conjures images of Caucasian people driving SUVs. But this is not necessarily true in the `burbs. Most of the time when I took my grandson to the park across the street from my house this summer, I was almost always the only English As A First Language speaker there. I heard lots of Russian, various Indian dialects, Spanish and occasional Chinese. (To contrast, when we lived in WI, I often felt like the most exotic ethnic person in the room.)
(5) The cultural scene here. Living in a place where there’s so much arts stuff happening makes conversation more interesting and people more literate.
(6) Fascinating recent spiritual history. During the last hundred-ish years or so, the Chicago metropolitan area has been the home all sorts of evangelicalism’s expressions, for example. Think DL Moody, Wheaton College (as well as several other committed to the cause of Christ institutions of higher learning), the city of Zion, lots of Christian publishers and Willow Creek Community Church. There is a calling/ministry of communication in the spiritual DNA of this region.
(7) The people: Big city sophisticated and Midwestern friendly, with a long heritage of patronage and networking. The single sentence that best sums up Chicago ways is the one that begins, “I got a guy…” As in, “I got a guy who can get you that car part for a third the cost”, “I got a guy who can get your kid a summer job at the park district”, “I got a guy who can rout out your clogged drain line”. Or take care of your parking ticket.
What do you like or dislike about the place where you live?