The other night, I began reading Michelle Obama’s book. In the first chapter “Becoming Me”, she talks about growing up in Chicago. Through her eloquent writing and Andy’s romanticized childhood recollections, I’ve never felt such a connection to a place. Especially one I’ve only been to twice.
I remembered being mesmerized by the same glittering skyscrapers, walking down the same crowded sidewalks, and skipping rocks on the beachfront parks of Lake Michigan just a short month ago and feeling that same feeling of awe. Even with the grey clouds and misty rain, the soft yellow orbs of light lining the avenues made Chicago so enchanting. Every time I wanted to return to the hotel, I saw something new that caught my eye.
In my mind, Chicago had always been a very industrial city, one that didn’t have the charm and sophistication of New York or Boston. For the first time, I was happy to be wrong. It has an incredibly rich cultural history, a thriving art community, many trendy shops, a diverse food scene, and the beautiful Chicago River, all conveniently situated on the shores of the breathtaking Lake Michigan. I really fell in love with this city, and even more so when the sun came out and cast a warm glow making the brisk air more bearable.
After braving Chicago traffic, we arrived in Andy’s hometown, and I relived his childhood with him as he showed me around. We drove past his high school where kids were just finishing track practice and the school was having a football game that night. He pointed out various friends houses who conveniently lived several blocks away and his high school crush’s house who lived down the street from him. There was the exact spot where he’d park his car and have long late night talks with his best friend and the movie theater where every middle school date happened. To the residents of Oak Park, it was just another day, but for us it was magically nostalgic. It felt like I had finally come home.