As a transplanted lomographer in New York City, I found that my real home was where I wasn't. Photos of my beloved adopted hometown, and the reasons why our pizza (and our city) is the best in the world.
Chicago was my first serious relationship. I came here wide-eyed and from a much smaller Midwestern city. At eighteen, I had never lived in a large urban environment, among those who flew along sidewalks, picnicked in parks, went to jobs in The Loop after riding the L. There was so much to learn.
After college I did the equivalent of leaving my high school boyfriend: I moved to New York City. I had conquered the third coast, what more could it have to offer me? While others were leaving their college towns of Champaign or Columbus or Ann Arbor for Chicago, Chicago now was my college town. So I got on a plane.
Like a bad romantic comedy, living in Astoria, Queens and traipsing all over Manhattan and Brooklyn was fun for a while, but only made me realize what I had back home. I missed Chicago constantly. I once almost hugged a stranger coming out of the Q train because he was wearing a Cubs hat (Ludicrous, given that I’m a White Sox fan). Some friends tried to surprise me and ordered a “Chicago style” pizza from a sad chain restaurant. It arrived in a miniature form, sad, lonely, limp. “It’s brilliant!” Chris declared. He’s from New Jersey.
For the uninformed: REAL Chicago pizza is a deep dish of crust filled with cheese and “toppings”, sauce on the top, which requires a knife and fork for consumption.
I moved to New York on November 1, 2008. Two days later the whole world, along with myself at Rockefeller Center, was watching Chicago. Never had I been prouder. Never had I known where I belonged.
Not much later, I moved back. At O’Hare Airport, I wanted to kiss the ground, the blue recycle bins that said “Mayor Richard M. Daley” all over them. It wasn’t just proximity to family or friends, it was the feeling of being in the right place, the right plug in the light socket. A skyline that opened up over an expanse of water without New Jersey behind it. Public beaches. Clean streets. Crappy public transportation…
There’s plenty to knock about Chicago. Our winters are too cold, our politicians too corrupt, our buses too slow. But deep down, we like that struggle. We need it. Without it, we would never be able to experience the ecstatic joy of a 75 degree St. Patrick’s Day with impromptu parties on the streets or the sheer euphoria when one of our sports teams actually wins a title. Even if you’re not a fan, on one of those nights, everyone is.
After seven (non-consecutive) years of being a Chicago resident, there is still so much to explore. I hope my photos capture the magic, grit, and pizza of this place.
Have you ever had a moment where you suddenly knew where you wanted to call “home”?