Ten years ago, I invited a friend to Chicago. She came with a couple of bags and her Texas swagger, and I thought to myself “This is gonna be fun!” We explored the city, ate a lot of food, and hailed cabs to the most touristy sites we could find.
I was so excited to have her in MY city. I had only been living there for a couple of years, but Chicago had already gained a piece of my heart. I loved Chicago – from the Magnificent Mile to the cute little shops in Wicker Park to the amazing places to brunch in Little Italy. It had become a place where I felt more like myself. It was also a place I knew I could mature. And I did mature.
When you enjoy a city and belong in a city – you call it your own – you use the word “my”. I’ve lived in cities that didn’t feel like they were ‘mine’, but instead belonged to others.
You can tell when people live in a place they don’t really belong. During conversations, they speak of the town as if it isn’t theirs at all, but instead belongs to others.
Fortunately, for most, the longer they stay somewhere, the more comfortable they’ll become… and comfort leads to like, and like leads to love.
I’ve learned a couple of things after living here and there:
1. You don’t have to assimilate in a city to make it work. I once lived in a banker’s town. It was ‘buttoned up’ and people wore khakis, chinos, or tennis skirts. Local residents were in love with numbers and wanted to live in houses that faced golf courses. I don’t own a tennis skirt, but I still managed to fit in.
2. Moving around also helped me learn that just because you were born somewhere doesn’t mean that you belong there. Hometowns aren’t as concrete as people think. A hometown is fluid and can change once you’ve found your ‘place’.