Before I left for Chicago for the weekend, I had planned to write a post about Chicago and how I loved it, but how it was no longer home. How almost all my friends had moved away from Chicago, how I hadn’t lived in Illinois for over ten years, how I had never actually lived in Chicago anyway, how I no longer had that feeling of homeness when my flight landed at O’Hare or Midway, and how one of my most loved friends passed away a few years ago and how Chicago hasn’t felt the same since.
But then I actually WENT to Chicago.
And I fell in love with it the way I fell in love with Chicago the first time I visited.
I consider my entire tenure in Chicago to be something of an accident. Because I had never planned to visit Northwestern. I had applied for no reason that I can recall except that perhaps some friends of mine who were older had applied, and I figured that’s just what people did.
But then I got in, and then the university offered to pay for my flight, and no way in hell was I missing THAT opportunity. So I got on that plane and headed to Evanston. And when I stepped on campus, I felt a sense that, yes, this is it. This place was home.
And this weekend, even though I haven’t lived there in years, I had the same feeling. That no matter how long it’s been or how rough the winter or how few friends I have left, Chicago will always be there to welcome me. And that no matter how much the city morphs and grows, somehow my memories will always be there, aged but intact, in majestic city institutions, on random street corners, in coffee shops, fire escapes, and on front porches.
And while it’s true I didn’t get a rush of feeling homeness when our plane landed in Chicago, I realize now that I didn’t have that rush when our plane landed in San Francisco either. Maybe because my subconscious realized that no matter whether I was in Chicago or San Francisco, I was always still Home.