I’ve gotten really good at telling stories lately. I tell two types of stories to two groups of people. The stories mirror each other; with one reflecting my past while the other portrays the present.
Having just moved halfway across the country, I constantly meet new people. To them, I tell the story of why I left Salt Lake City for Chicago, full of quips about Utah’s crazy culture that are entertaining for the Midwesterners who know little about Utah besides the bad press and pathetic stereotypes that get leaked from the state. Occasionally I meet someone who visits Utah’s mountains that gives me the same crazy look as Utahans when I tell them I’m not a skier.
That set of stories is easy to tell. The other story, about my new life in Chicago, is much more difficult.
Almost every day someone asks how I’m settling in with life in Chicago, if I’ve found a routine, if it feels like home yet. The questions always leave me somewhat speechless. How do I explain that I instantly felt comfortable here, that every single aspect of my life has improved a thousand times and then some, that every single day is like living a dream I never thought I’d get to experience?
Chicago is stunningly beautiful, with some of the most impressive architecture in the world combined with an emerald river weaving throughout its skyscrapers and a skyline anchored by a blue lake so massive it could pass for the ocean if you didn’t know any better. Its streets are energetic and full of people, there are a thousand outstanding restaurants and hundreds of incredible bars — most within walking distance of my apartment. There are a million things to do, from museums and concerts to sporting events and festivals. I couldn’t get bored here if I tried.
I live along the river and get distracted by the boat traffic outside my window on a daily basis. I traded my car for a sturdy pair of walking shoes and my commute consists of wandering the city’s streets discovering new places on my way home. Every day there comes a point when I am overwhelmed with the sheer amazement that this is my life, that I live here in this wonderful city and I can barely believe it.
Yes, the weather is fickle and hasn’t figured out that it’s summer yet (we’re still wearing jackets here), there’s nothing glamorous about carrying groceries home on foot in the rain, and I’ve spent more money lately than I’d like to think about, but still I have never been happier in my entire life. And that’s the other story I’ve been trying to tell lately.
For three years I traveled the world in search of a city that felt like home. I looked nearby and far away but couldn’t get this Midwestern city out of my mind. In the six weeks since I’ve lived in Chicago, I’ve felt more at home here than I did my whole life living in Salt Lake City.
And that’s the best part of the story.