» All Things Grow, All Things Grow…
  • All Things Grow, All Things Grow…

    Jul 25th • Posted in food, love, personal, writing


    Despite spending the majority of my formative years in beautiful Hawaii, I consider Chicago the place where I really “grew up.” I started by wandering aimlessly through the crowds on State Street, and made my way towards the blustering winds on the bridges of River North. I found myself flirting with another Midwestern transplant over spicy Szechuan style hot pot in Chinatown, and all at once found myself making out with him in his overpriced shithole of a studio apartment in Logan Square. I learned I had a voice to give– and advocated for those who couldn’t speak up in a small laboratory in Lincoln Park. I struggled to breathe life into mythological figures over canneles and gravlax sandwiches off the Belmont red line stop. I lost the ability to fight for myself and my priorities through a failed relationshit: from surreptitious kisses in the Egyptian wing of the Field Museum, to “Pooping Back and Forth. Forever.” and finally fading into passive-aggressive arguments, showing up four hours late for a date, and silent dinners. I reclaimed my dignity after a weekend at Lollapalooza, where we held each other for the last time. I nursed my broken heart over craft cocktails and drunken nights at Elixir, where I (at least I’d like to believe) became the only straight girl to receive free drinks. And then I fell in love again, this time with the idea of a man– a beautifully tortured medical student with the charm of a psychopath. I lost myself again over broken promises and plans, shed many tears over Halloween, and tried way too hard to give all my love to a man with the inability to return it. I poured myself into work, school, and alcohol. I commiserated with friends over cheap tacos, stiff drinks and eardrum-shattering tunes in Wicker Park. I graduated with honours. I said goodbye over shots of malört and midnight cookies at Scofflaw. I ran away to Europe. When I returned, I found the strength to pick up the pieces, face what I had left behind, and tie up loose ends. Chicago, you’ve seen me at my worst, and you’ve seen me at my best. In the two years that I lived in you, I didn’t just grow– I fleshed out who I was as a human being, I figured out what I wanted, and I’m all the more appreciative of the time I’ve spent in Chicago.

    It’s hard to imagine anyone growing up when they make a conscious choice to live in Wrigleyville, mecca of perpetually drunken former frat-boy professionals and suburbanites rooting for a cursed team. But it happens all the time, and it happens to the best (and worst) of us moving there. I moved into a two bedroom apartment with a steady rotation of roommates (ironically, only two of them made my life harder. One of them still owes me and my other former roommate a shit ton of money.) I bought furniture to match the occassion- though two years in Chicago, and a busy schedule made the flat more sparse than it should have been for all the life that was lived. I lived on the island of the initiation couch (named for exactly what you think it was used for) and the two living room tables that Becca found in the back of a dumpster. I threw my 20th birthday party, surrounded by my wonderful best friends from Omaha and some of my newer friends in Chicago– ending in a drunken mess where I had to be held up by my best guy friend and pushed into a Boystown bar, lost and confused. I held parties, drank myself to death and curled up on the initiation couch with friends and lovers alike. When I decided to get my ass off the couch, I quickly ate my way through Lakeview. I made a comfortable food home out of the Belmont Purple/Brown/Red line stop, and hopped my way from Native Foods to La Boulangerie, and studied in the former 24-hour Starbucks that rested on the corner of Belmont and Clark. I’ve ended many nights in corner booths of Clarke’s and Pick Me Up Cafe with friends. I fell for a man in Logan Square, and then he moved further north. When we broke up, I claimed Logan Square as my own, and frequented the bars and music venues there. Many of my friends joined me on my escapades, and watched me drown my broken heart in liquor and various dates.

    I poured myself into Chicago– an investment that paid off, giving me infinite amounts of wisdom and experience back. Sometimes I give the men in my Chicago experience (and some, more than others) too much credit: I wouldn’t have enjoyed Chicago nearly as much without the help of top-shelf alcohol, great food, amazing friends and helpful mentors along the way. I gave pieces of myself to each of these parts, and promptly found myself along the way. I’m happy for the growth, for my true bildungsroman experience, and for the city that helped me through it.