10 July 2011

My kind of town

I love Chicago!  I lived there for nearly 10 years and have had some of my all time favorite memories happen there!!  Having moved there right after college it's a place where I really came into my own.  I lived in first time crappy apartments. I was a wide eyed twenty something exploring the city as if I was a child in a new playground!  I gained confidence and experience in my teaching career.  I jumped feet first into working in the inner city Chicago Public Schools.  It was the hardest job I ever had yet I look at those years as a tremendous time for personal and professional growth.  It made me love Chicago even more because I loved and adored my students who lived in these neighborhoods. Neighborhoods that had I not been employed there I never would have stepped foot in!  It made me want to be the best teacher for them because gosh darn it they deserved it as much as the kids in the near by private schools or the swanky suburbs!  I was proud of my work and I knew I was making a difference!  I also made life long friendships during my years living there.  When your single living in the city friends were your family!  Long before Sex and the City made it trendy, my girlfriends and I would explore new restaurants, bars, festivals, etc.. We met boys and dated lots!  All the while sharing and laughing at our experiences together.  I was a joiner...I somehow always knew this was my time for me!  I had a career, I had a great apartment in a great neighborhood, I had great friends and family and I lived in a wonderful city with so much to offer!  I volunteered with Chicago Cares- working every other Saturday at place called The Living Room Cafe- a food shelter for the homeless, I took up guitar lesson for years at a little place called The Old Town School of Folk Music.  I was on a volleyball team where we played in the summer every Wednesday at North Avenue Beach.  I attended plays and improv shows at quaint little theaters.  I got involved with my church and went to Guatemala with Habit for Humanity to build a house!  Eventually, after many years of being single I met my husband in the city at the Old St. Pats Block Party...we later that evening had our first conversation at a friends party- on a roof top with The Sears Tower as a backdrop.  Yes, indeed I will forever have a special place in my heart for Chicago and the countless memories it brought me!

On Saturday, June 25th I was a tourist in Chicago going sailing with some friends.  It was a fantastic time and reminded me how fun it is to take advantage of all the city has to offer!  While we were driving through our old stomping grounds I was reminded of all the memories I made while living there. While I sometimes miss those days I take comfort in knowing I left no stone unturned... I whole heartily embraced those years there!  While I write all this down as sort of a love letter to my beloved city I also want to remind myself that I experienced so much before I got married and had kids.  It's something I'm very proud of and it's a lesson I want to teach my girls someday.  While I was waiting for love to come along I didn't stop living until I found the one.  Which reminds me of two favorite quotes I often referred to back in the day: 

"How wrong is it for woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than set out to create it herself." - Anais Nin

"People often understand love only as a need.  They begin to see love as something that flows to them rather than from them. The secret to love is that it's a gift and can be made to grow only by giving it away."

Some photos from our sailing excursion-

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