Monday, October 14, 2013

Where I Am and Where I Was

Ah, it's so good to be home. I mean it really, truly is. There is so much I missed about the Pacific Northwest during my 3 year stint in the Second City. Whether it's true or not, life just feels easier here. The people I see around town are generally happier and friendlier than the average people I would encounter at an L stop in the South Loop. Small talk between strangers is relaxed rather than guarded. I feel like I can be silly and crack jokes and not feel like smiling at someone is an invitation for harassment. I really love being able to walk around in public places without having on my "game face."

That is to say, when I would walk around in my Chicago neighborhood or around school I was very self-conscious and defensive. Only now am I realizing how stressed out I was just getting from point A to point B. I got tired of feeling generally distrustful of strangers, then feeling guilty about being distrustful and eventually I was just left wondering how the heck I got to be so pessimistic!

And one night in particular several months ago, when I was muddling through this mental rabbit hole, my boyfriend came home and I asked him about his day. He told me about walking down the sidewalk and seeing a man in a wheelchair cross the street. A car hit the man in the wheelchair and threw him out of his chair and into the middle of traffic. When the driver realized what happened, she got out of her car and yelled at the man about needing to watch where he's going. He had been in a crosswalk. She did not help him back into his chair.

Of course there are great things about the city as well. Personally, I loved school which is good since that's about all I did for the past three years. Chicago was the perfect place for me to geek out on late 19th century American type history, experimental poetry, and artists' books. My print studio was blocks away from the historic Printer's Row and just a few train stops away from the Newberry Library and the Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection. That city is chock full of fantastic printers and book artists and I am so thankful for the friendships I made.

But I am not trying to tally up all the pros and cons of my urban experience. I'm glad I did it, I learned a lot about other people as well as about myself. Most importantly perhaps, I learned just how much I love my personal neck of the woods. For example, these woods.

More about "these woods" in my next post. Until then, have you ever tried living somewhere that just never clicked? Or you always felt like an outsider, even after a few years of living there?


  1. you're making me wistful for the other coast! i know the game face so well, it seems a mask you have to wear most places, except over there.

  2. Totally! I've been in DC for 5 years and I feel pretty safe saying it will never feel like home. I'm always longing after my old haunts (CA & New Orleans), although I know I have so many good things in my life here. Glad you're back living somewhere that makes you truly joyful - I think that's something not everyone gets to experience, but once you do you realize how important it is. If nothing else being away makes it all the more special when you return. :)

  3. Dude i'm so excited that you're so close by. After years of living in London, it took me a while to realize all the emotional, mental and physical consequences of city living. They were pretty over powering actually.

    1. Oh yeah, I bet London would be hard for me too. I've been there a couple times only as a tourist, so my experiences were short and sweet. It really does take a while to realize how a place affects you, that kind of emotional drainage was really sneaky for me too. Cheers to trees!