The First City

I, and I’m sure other Chicagoans, find the reactions we get, from locals abroad, when we say we’re from Chicago, quite humorous. It could go one of three ways, or all three, depending on the individual:

  1. “Oh my God, do you know Oprah?!” No . . . hate to burst your bubble, but Oprah isn’t everybody’s friend, just Gail’s and developing communities in Africa’s. This question was very popular when I was in Australia.
  2. “Oh, Al Capone,” accompanied by finger gun motions and *pow, pow* noises. Some just straight up ask about the mafia–Italian, Irish, and Russian, mostly–or ask if we’re affiliated. If I was, do you think I’d tell?
  3. And, then, of course, the all-time “abroad” classic: “Stupid American(s).” One of my tour guides even told our group to say we were from Canada.

~

The Windy City.
Chiraq.
Chiberia.
Chitown or Chi City.

A place where there are only two seasons: winter and construction. A city where you’re sitting poolside one day only to shovel your driveway the next.

Where speed limits are only recommended guidelines that only out-of-towners follow. Where you’re risking your life by trying to merge into the left lane on the Kennedy, and where express lanes aren’t so express around three o’clock.

A city where everybody claims to be from, but true Chicagoans reside where the L stops. A city that most are afraid of, but a city that more people love.

Sky scrapers touching the clouds, housing big businesses and views for miles. All the money is here; some of the corruption is here.

A place where foodies thrive and will travel to the most dangerous parts of the city for the best burritos in town. The home of the deep dish pizza, and don’t you dare ask for ketchup at the hot dog stand.

Where Malnati and Portillo are household names; where Capone and Oprah are household names. Where the citizens take pride, even if their team hasn’t won a World Series in over a hundred years.

A city where the streets are crowded with herds of people in red, black, and white, adorning the yellow, green, and orange feathers. The hopes of Derrick Rose making a come back are still in the air.

Contaminated water, but the beaches are still packed every weekend. Lousy pay-to-park terminals, but everybody still renews their space.

The home of Lollapalooza and a sculpture dedicated to something that makes you fart. The home of Marshall Field’s, rest in peace.

Resurrection Mary rests here. The spirits of Hull House and the Iroquois Theater haunt here.

Where there is a whole district dedicated to meat-packing, as there is an entire island dedicated to beer. Where location is key, and where you live really does matter.

We’re a boiling melting pot of cultures, differences, and similarities. Where influences bring us together.

A place where you look forward to Paczki Day every February or March. Where you take off work to go to the Taste.

A city where you’ve made friends and enemies. A place where you’ve found yourself; a place where you’ve found love.

New Yorkers say Chicago is the Second City.
We refer to it as the first; Chicago is second to none.

My city.
My first love.
My forever home.

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