This year will be ten years since I moved to Poland — I don’t know how they passed so quickly. Time seems to be moving at ultra speeds recently. Having grown up in a city like Chicago, I appreciate the smallness and greenness of Bialystok. Most of the time, I don’t miss Chicago, but there are some things I do.
Chicago is a strange place in so many ways. It’s a big city, but its neighborhoods make it feel small. I grew up in Avondale and went to Saint Hyacinth Grade School. The high school I went to, Whitney M. Young Magnet H.S., is located in the West Loop (near Little Italy, University Village, and Greektown). I spent much of high school hanging out in Wicker Park and Bucktown, where I attended writing classes at Young Chicago Authors. As a student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), I got to live in several neighborhoods – the Loop, Lakeview (across the street from Graceland Cemetery), and O’Hare (across the street from a forest preserve).
Chicago is known for its diverse cuisine, among other things — some not so positive. But did you know that Chicago also has very active writing and art communities? I miss all the fun cultural things to do in Chicago – the gallery openings, art walks, readings, open mics, poetry slams, festivals, and other events. Below are some places I wish I could visit more often. These places are Chicago to me.
I could spend hours at Myopic. I loved the smell of the place. And when you read as much as I do, buying used just makes sense. Myopic is so much more than just a used book store though, it is an aura, a mood, a romantic notion of reading and writing encapsulated in a place.
Harold Washington Public Library
Harold Washington Library is huge — I have never been to a larger library building. The hours spent there are never wasted. The thing that I liked about that library the most was how nice and helpful the people that worked there were. I hope that hasn’t changed.
Earwax Cafe (now closed)
I was sad to learn of Earwax closing. I know, the name sounds gross, and many people when I took them there for the first time were always wary to try the food. This was the first vegetarian/vegan place I ever went to. I think I was 15 years old when I first visited Earwax and it felt like a homecoming. They always played cool music and had such an artsy vibe. Back then, Wicker Park was not what it is now. It was more gritty but also much cooler. Earwax supported my romantic notion of my writer/artist self.
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Cultural Center and Museum of Contemporary Art
I spent many a lunch hour enjoying the art at these three institutions. The Art Institute was very formative for me. Not only did I attend the school connected to it, it is also where I had my first art experiences. I remember visiting the Art Institute as a child with my mother and getting lost in the paintings. The Chicago Cultural Center is arguably one of the most beautiful buildings in Chicago. They organize lots of great exhibitions and events. It’s where I saw art by Magdalena Abakanowicz, one of my favorite artists, for the first time. The Museum of Contemporary Art probably doesn’t require much explanation. I even had the good fortune of showing my work there as part of their First Friday events. If you live in Chicago or will be visiting in the near future, go see the Surrealism: The Conjured Life exhibition, which is on view until June 5, 2016, and know that I am extremely jealous of you.
Shopping at Penelope’s in Wicker Park/Bucktown
I was amazed when I looked this place up and it was still open. This neighborhood has changed so much in the last 15 years. The fact that it’s still open just proves that I’m not the only one who enjoyed leaving my money there. Obviously, their selection has changed since I last shopped there. I remember they had lots of quirky home and body products. A t-shirt I bought there over a decade ago has been through many major life events with me. If you can’t make it to Chicago, you can check them out online here.
Chicago Botanic Garden
I love spending time in nature and this botanic garden is huge. It consists of various gardens such as the rose, Japanese, and sensory gardens. I loved relaxing there and when I was older, and as an art student, I honed my photography skills there.
Gene Siskel Film Center
When I first started attending SAIC, I lived in the dorms next door. The Gene Siskel Film Center is where you can see films that are hard to see anywhere else.
Getting beer at Exchequer Pub
Art student life isn’t just making and looking at art. Some of my best memories are of meeting up at Exchequer for beer with friends.
One thing I don’t miss is Chicago winters.
Have you ever been to Chicago? What did you like about it?
What do you miss about your home town?
All images are from pixabay.com