I cannot count the number of times I’ve stood on a street corner, waiting to cross, looking up at the skyscrapers surrounding me, and thought of how much I have already fallen in love with Chicago. The sun can be setting, rising, slowly drifting over the skyline, hidden behind a dense blanket of gray clouds, it doesn’t matter. I’m amazed, struck, brought nearly to tears. Maybe I’m overly sentimental, but I think there’s something to be said about the beauty of this city.
It probably helps that I’ve met wonderful people and get to go to amazing events every week. And again, I’m extremely fortunate to have a family that continues to help out with my education and living arrangements, so the stress of bill paying is considerably lessened. And yet, I’m sure if I had a full-time job and hardly any time to myself, I’d be happy on that street corner, waiting to cross, just the same.
And now the conflict: how is it that a heart can fall in love, equally, with two different cities? I was -hashtag blessed- to have gone to school in Austin, to have had the wonderful college years running around, eating tacos, working in arguably the best bookstore in America, watching Texas sunsets, and hanging out in bars with some of the best friends. This past weekend, UT played our rival OU in Dallas, and we won. It was an amazing game, one I cheered on from a couch in the suburbs here in Chicago. My fellow alumni celebrated both at the game and on social media, and my heart ached for the camaraderie of Longhorns. As if that wasn’t enough, it was also weekend 2 of ACL. My youngest brother was there, and he lamented that he was in Austin the one year I wasn’t. Some of my close friends are still in school there, constantly telling both Spiro and myself how they miss us and wish we were there with them. And I remember standing on campus and looking up at the Tower and feeling the same love that I feel here in Chicago. I have twice as much love, but twice as much ache. And when I let myself be consumed by the love of one of them, I feel like I’m cheating on the other. It’s very complicated.
>>RELEVANT: Literally just overheard Spiro saying this to his mom on the phone, “Mom, I was in love with Austin. We were in a four year relationship. We recently broke up. And even though I found a new girl that I really like in Chicago, you can’t ask if I like her more. I’ve only known her for 2 months.”
S A M E.
I’m probably feeling the ache for Texas a little more than the love of Chicago right now, and that’s because I did the math (rare, I know), and this is the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing my family. Like I said in my last blog, in Austin I could go home every month or so and see my parents, my younger sister, sometimes one of my brothers would be there. My dogs! My siblings are some of my best friends. And being home just has a feel of home, you know? But now, it’s been over two months, and I have another two to go before I’m home again. FaceTime is a God-send, yes. But technology is no substitute for physical nearness.
To sum up: I miss my family.
Ironically, my writing has been reflecting the opposite of my feelings. It’s funny. I’m kind of known for writing dark, somewhat depressing stories. It’s my “niche.” But the most recent story I submitted for workshop was light-hearted and sarcastic (hint: the character was based off Spiro 😉 ). I guess that’s strong proof for writing and fiction being an escape, yeah? Even stronger: the other story I’ve been working on has been extremely family oriented. Ha.
Let’s look on the bright side, though (since I’m always lauding my optimistic personality). I’ve made some great friends already in my program, even friends that are girls! And Spiro’s extended family has been so welcoming and comforting here in Chicago. Texas friends have been trying to make plans to come and visit. And most of all, I have Spiro with me. The support system is strong and I feel secure and less alone.
Some school updates: I got a story workshopped (see sarcastic, light-hearted description above). It went pretty well, and I have high hopes for the rest of the semester. My cohort is very intelligent and insightful and helpful. Then, my lit class: I have a paper due tomorrow, and I’ve spent two weeks working on it, which is more effort than I’ve put into a paper before. I also enjoyed writing this one, and the material and the direction I went.
So that’s life thus far. It’s getting cooler by the day; I’ve put away all my shorts and I’m in the process of taking sweaters out of boxes and hanging them up for more frequent wear, because GET THIS, Chicago has seasons. The Cubs are in the playoffs (!!!) and Spiro and I are currently about to walk out the door to go to Wrigleyville and cheer them on in Game 3. It’s a pretty good life.