I was flying into Chicago at night
Watching the lake turn the sky into blue-green smoke
The sun was setting to the left of the plane
And the cabin was filled with an unearthly glow
In 27-D I was behind the wing, watching landscape roll out
Like credits on a screen
The earth looked like it was lit from within
like a poorly assembled electrical ball as we moved
Out of the farmlands into the grid
The plan of the city was all that you saw
And all of these people sitting totally still
As the ground raced beneath them thirty thousand feet down
It took an hour, maybe a day
But once I really listened, the noise
Just went away…
– Liz Phair, “Stratford-On-Guy” from Exile in Guyville (1993)

Well, I didn’t fly in this time, but I’m home. It is always really nice to be home – my own bed, my stuff, my kitchen, etc. I’m sort of avoiding part two of the Great Unpack which always follows any time away … usually I do the fun stuff first, and then there’s the laundry. In this case, it’s clean – I may be over 30, but I will never be too old to do my laundry at my parents’ while quarters are still part of that equation – so really, there’s no excuse not to just put it away. Except this blog post, of course.

Today we’ll examine my five things to be thankful for, Chicago style.

  1. Coming into the city on Lakeshore Drive. This really kind of encompasses the lake, the skyline, and the lakeshore, so I may count it as more than one. I just got to re-experience this one and enjoy it anew.
  2. Architecture. We have got some fine architecture, almost no matter what your taste runs to: from the humble bungalow to Mies Van Der Rohe, Sullivan & Root, Frank Lloyd Wright (or would you prefer Gehry?) to the wonderful older two- and three-flats, or the mansions that line the boulevards. If I knew more about it, I could go on longer. Aren’t you glad I don’t?
  3. Food. Chicago may not have it all, and not all of it may be available all night or by delivery, but by golly there’s some good eating here. Right now I am thinking of the humble Pita Inn on Dempster which has some freaking amazing shawarma and falafel. I wish they delivered here.
  4. Walking, or public transit. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for my car – and really I think for a lot of things in Chicago you are happier with, at the least, access to a car – but I love being able to park it and not move it for a week. Or two.
  5. Neighborhoods.