Day 2 | Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore

image-3There are a few things that about Chicago that are going to take some getting used to. They aren’t bad things, just different. For instance, taking the train instead of a car everywhere. (Side note: is driving a car like riding a bike, or will I just lose that skill completely?) Today I experienced my first case of “train traffic” as well as getting lost and confused. Turns out navigating my way to City Hall is easier said than done. Especially in the shoes I was wearing. Another thing I do differently is crossing a street. You would think all those intelligent people would remember the number one rule of walking: Look both ways before you cross. Its a sure sign you’re not from the city when you wait for cars to motion you to pass instead of playing Russian Roulette, cross walk style. All in all, however, I survived my first take on navigating the Loop solo and rewarded myself with the guilty tourist pleasure of the Shedd Aquarium.

The Shedd doesn’t have that same sort of “home” vibe I described earlier, but it did bring back some long lost dreams. When I was younger, all I wanted to be was a marine biologist. Until my great aunt told me I’d make no money and go nowhere in life, that is. Sea life has always fascinated me. Maybe it is the sheer uncertainty of it all and the way our imaginations make up for what we don’t know or maybe its just the way it excites all your senses, other than smell, obviously. Being at the aquarium today made me feel like a little kid again, though. I went with my best friend’s 11 year old sister and in between trying to impress her with my knowledge of marine life and pressing my face up against the glass, I felt that desire to be a marine biologist all over again. (Or dolphin trainer, lets be honest.)

All in all, I had a great day filled with both work and play. I hope this balance is something that will continue as I begin to work full time. The adventure has just begun.

Granville Station

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Day 1 | U.S.A.

I, unlike many people, thoroughly enjoy mornings. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opting to wake up at the crack of dawn every day, but waking up with a full day ahead of me is a comforting thought. On my first full day in Chicago, it was only right to start my adventure in a coffee shop. I threw on my Chuck Taylors and reading glasses, blindly got down the street, and attempted to enter Metropolis Coffee Company. I used a non-working door.

Once finally inside, I made a new friend. The barista welcomed me to the city and warmed up my cinnamon roll with the company microwave. As with many of my friends, I didn’t ask her name. For now, I’ll call her Angel, due to the signed Angels flat bill she was wearing. After returning to my seat, I began my pursuit of enjoying my cup of coffee and pastry. As simple of a task as this is, I still felt out of place (despite the stereotypical outfit pairing). I was barbarously eating a stale cinnamon roll and typing away on my phone, due to the misfortune of forgetting my laptop. I could get up and get a knife, but that would be the 5th time I’ve gotten up and I fear the man next to me thinks I have some sort of disability. The chunk of sugary dough that flew in his direction as I attempted to cut my food with a plastic fork didn’t help matters. To add to this whole misfortune, I wore a sweater this morning…and it was already 83 degrees out. After changing out of my sweater, the next obvious activity for the day was finding a local gym. I could use a run at this point, anyways. After navigating my way to the nearest work out facility, I continued my embarrassing streak by informing a personal trainer that I lift weights on the reg and wouldn’t be needing his help. Much to my misfortune, all muscle memory seemed to have dissipated, causing me to last a solid 5 minutes on the treadmill and pull a muscle while squatting. I’m currently taking recommendations for new gyms. And coffee shops.

After my disappointingly awkward morning, I was happy to be going downtown with my roommates Stevie and Brad to watch the USA vs. Ghana soccer game at Grant Park. I had no idea what to expect, but was looking forward to my first sporting event in Chicago, even if it was via satellite. As we got closer to the park, we could hear Lupe Fiasco rapping and people chanting “USA”, it was clear a good time was about to be had. Watching a game of this much hype was not dissimilar to being in Allen Fieldhouse for a KU basketball game. (In particular the pre-game hype up video. Those make my heart skip a beat.) Within 34 seconds, USA scored their first goal. The entire crowd went nuts! This was the moment when I finally felt in my element. They say there’s no place like home, especially over in AFH, and right then I was getting that same vibe you get when Joel Embiid makes an incredible block or Andrew Wiggins drives for an earth-shattering dunk. (I even saw a guy in a KU polo and yelled Rock Chalk his way!)

On the train ride back north, after an amazing win by USA, I began to think about what constitutes home. I don’t think it is something tangible, but rather a feeling. It evokes emotions, memories, hopes, desires, and passions. It is something you feel an unbreakable bond to. Its familiarity is nostalgic, while at the same time exciting, and ever changing. Today I felt at home in Chicago. I felt a direct connection to everyone surrounding me, a desire to make their lives better, and dreams for the city’s future. By moving to Chicago I in no way lost a home, but added another one to the list.