I’ve been home for a few months now and thoughts on my experience living in Chicago have had time to crystallise. As they took shape, I found I was inspired to make a short film — my first solo effort — and one I call ‘My Chicago’.
Initial thoughts about Chicago
For me, Chicago was always a ‘why not?’ destination, instead of a ‘YES!’ destination. I stressed about the cold, the snow and the ice; wondered how people were able to go out and perform daily functions, such as commuting to work and grocery shopping in the middle of blizzards. I had little idea how I’d manage living in a climate vastly different to what I was used to, but I was willing to give it a red hot go.
Initially, I found the city abrupt and unforgiving and it appeared the feeling was mutual. But I gave it some time, and before I knew it the city grew on me. It grew on me far more than I could have every imagined. I made myself a life in yet another new city, learned to dress for (and deal with!) the cold and make new friends. I dove into the freshwater Lake Michigan, ran down the Lakefront trail and visited the animals at the free Lincoln Park Zoo only five-minute walk from my apartment. I spent nights at Kingston Mines, afternoons learning yoga, and weekends playing netball and watching baseball. I went to museums, navigated the public transport and spent countless hours wandering Lincoln Park to photograph the row houses. And after surviving the Polar Vortex, I can survive anything that’s thrown my way!
The people are what make Chicago extra-special
I encountered wonderful people in Chicago — real, like-minded people — who were so friendly and welcoming of me. These are the kind of people who stop you on the train to tell you that you’re looking good, those who say what they think and those who love a laugh. After those initial tough first weeks, it was like a giant hug from the Midwest acknowledging that it was glad I was here. I feel indebted to the great people I met at #703 and the Chicago Netball Club and who made my experience so memorable.
I cried when I left. In fact, I cried a lot. I was incredibly emotional leaving it all behind and that surprised me. Elements of Chicago had become part of me, and I’d like to think elements of myself had also been exchanged in return. That’s the mark of a great city: somewhere you’re sad to leave. I stand on this side of the experience and love the city as though it was my own.
The Hanovers — thank you for those initial weeks and for a wonderful Christmas sledding and eating and laughing. I miss having you guys so close!
The Williams Family — thanks again for your hospitality, the opportunities and for the loan of that phenomenal winter jacket.
To Olivia and the girls (and guys) at the Chicago Netball Club — thanks for your friendship on and off the court. It was great getting to know you all, and I hope to return soon to play another season.
To #703 — thanks for all going out of your way to make me feel a part of the team and for being so patient with my millions of questions. I enjoyed my time with you all immensely, and really miss working with each of you. And my taste in music has undergone some refinement after closing regularly — I listen to a lot more Robyn and Chvrches!
And to Kat — thank you so much for taking a gamble on me. I really made your apartment my own and was thankful for having met you. I think you’ll see just how much I enjoyed my time at St James in my film.
I dream of returning to live in Chicago again, one day.
But perhaps just for the summer months …
So, without further ado, here’s My Chicago: