I’ve lived in Chicago for over a year now, and my best friends finally came to visit me. I was so excited to show them the school and the people I met in my program and the city that dragged me all the way from the warm beaches of San Diego. People in Chicago always ask me, “What the heck made you decide to move here,” and I always tell them that it was Columbia and this city.
We spent a good amount of time in my neighborhood, Lakeview, and as far as neighborhoods go, I really love it here. The neighborhood has a ton of boutiques, thrift stores, several larger chain stores, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, a ton of bookstores, record stores, and so many food choices and neighborhood bars.
And, of course, we ate. Oh man did we eat. Here’s a brief list of the food we indulged in and a list to remember should you find yourself in Chicago.
Taco Burrito House: Mexican food. The closest I can find to back home.
Dunkin Donuts: This doesn’t exist in California and clearly, it should.
Stella’s Diner: Local breakfast diner.
Flub a Dub Chubs: Chicago dogs and Veggie Chicago dogs.[flickr id=”6259371653″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”center”]
Lou Malnati’s: Deep-dish pizza. Did I mention the butter crust?!
Paciugo: Intensely delicious gelato.
We also stopped by Lake Michigan, which for people from either coast, is always a little strange. The lake is so incredibly huge and looks like an ocean, except it’s missing the waves (though this particular day was a little windy, which creates waves.)[flickr id=”6259443497″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”center”]
We visited Cloud Gate (The Bean), the Chicago River, the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park and State Street. I hadn’t visited these places since I first arrived in Chicago, and it was interesting to see them now that I’m living here, to watch people doing high kicks in front of the bean and leaning against the railing of the Chicago River smiling for photos and taking the water taxi architectural tour. I forget about all of the different things that you can do in the city. I walk past The Bean and Millennium Park on a regular basis and forget to stop and enjoy them. It was nice to pause for a moment and breath in the excitement of being new to the city again.[flickr id=”6259371273″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”center”]
We ended our time together by attending a reading by Claudia Rankine, one of my favorite writers, who was invited to read at Columbia as part of Creative Nonfiction Week. This was a lovely way to end the week with my girlfriends, getting to share with them, even if it was just a small part, the opportunities that I am getting to experience during my time here in Chicago and at Columbia. More soon on Creative Nonfiction Week!