Spring break at the school where I teach is still more than a month away, but I've already started planning what to do during my time off. I think I might be able to afford a few days off to travel, and I've been thinking of making a brief trip back to Chicago.
I've grown (somewhat) accustomed to living in Small Town now. There are only a couple coffee shops in town, but I've already picked out my favorite cafe and often go there to write. When I feel particularly claustrophobic, I drive to one of the larger towns or cities to go shopping or try a new restaurant. Despite my usual "leave me alone unless you have food, in which case just give me the food and THEN leave" attitude, I have started socializing more with people my age who live here.
But I'd like to visit Chicago again, even just for a few days, especially because I may never live there again. The job I have in Small Town is not a tenure-track position, which means that eventually I will have to move on to another school, either in this state or maybe in some other town halfway across the country (such is the life of the untenured college teacher).
There are some things about Chicago that I miss a lot, and some things that I'm happy to be free of:
I miss the Chicago-style stuffed pizza, and the way that Chicagoans often insisted that their favorite pizza place was the best and would even get into arguments with each other about it.
I don't miss the prices at many Chicago restaurants, which apparently have the motto, "Why make things affordable when we can overcharge you weaklings who cannot resist our food? HAHAHAHAHA!"
I miss walking around Greektown, where old men sat on chairs outside the restaurants and called out to each other in Greek. I also miss the fact that I could walk down almost any street in Chicago and hear at least four or five different languages being spoken.
I don't miss random creeps who called out to me when I was walking down almost any street in Chicago, because apparently they go by the following motto: If I yell out as many offensive things as possible and/or try to grope women that I think are attractive, surely ONE of them will want to hook up with me, and I have NO IDEA why this hasn't worked yet.
I miss the neighborhood festivals, like the Chinese New Year's festival in Chinatown, where I used to watch the dragon dancers, the Taste of Chicago in Grant Park, where I ate toasted ravioli and other delicious food from local restaurants, or Northalsted Market Days in Boystown, where I looked wistfully at all the good-looking, muscular guys dancing in colorful briefs and think, "And they're all gay, darn it!"
I don't miss the crowds at those festivals (or any popular event or place in the city), where there was sometimes the risk that I might get robbed/knocked down/thrown up on (and yes, all three things happened to me at some point or other during some of these festivals).
I miss riding the CTA trains and buses, because I dislike driving in Small Town; I dislike parking, and I dislike all the drivers who apparently don't know how to drive or park.
I don't miss the weird, annoying, or scary people on the CTA trains and buses, like the guy who took off his pants just because I glanced in his direction, or the people who would delay the trains by holding the doors open for their friends, or the people whose solution to crowded trains and buses would be to make them even MORE crowded by squeezing themselves onboard.
I miss riding rented bikes by the lake, window shopping on Michigan Avenue, and the free admissions' days at the museums.
I don't miss the aggressive bicyclists by the lake, the protestors who yelled at anyone who didn't protest with them on Michigan Avenue (and there are a LOT of them in Chicago right now), and the mob of tourists at the museums who walked so slowly (because they were appreciating the scenery) that I always had to mutter to myself, "Don't yell at the tourists don't yell at the tourists don't -"
On the other hand, part of me is thinking that maybe I should just save my money and not go to Chicago at all, or maybe I should go somewhere else for my spring break (I am considering a road trip to explore more of the surrounding area this summer).
What about you? What do you like best/least about your hometown, or what would you miss most about it?
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