Monthly Archives: December 2009

The Journey North

Chicago is home anew now. I managed to both come home and come to a new and magical land.

My excuse for not writing recently is that I moved in last week to my new home on Webster Ave. in Lincoln Park, Chicago. Lincoln Park, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the more happening neighborhoods in the city. I’ve been here for over a week now, and I’m starting to get my bearings. True, the uppity nature of the place makes me second guess myself, but as far as I am concerned, I have come to a wonderful place, and I am very blessed, yuppies and all.

All you Hyde Parkers and South Side folk might turn up your noses, but frankly my dears I don’t give a damn. Go ahead and think I’ve betrayed your precious South Side uniqueness for the Northface-wearing Northerners. I’m still me, but a much less aggravated me, so woot. You can say what you want, but it won’t change the fact that you probably never go north of 47th street, south of 61st, or west of Cottage Grove, no matter how much you may feel one with South Side culture. Even if you did venture out of Hyde Park, it is probably on the weekend to come to places like Lincoln Park. I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but this is certainly true of many. If you want to live in that bubble that gushes with that strange combination of south side, university and hippie cultures, I’ll leave that to you.

I never was much of a fan of Hyde Park, in case you couldn’t tell. HP has its fans, I know, and I can kind of understand why. Hyde Park, to be sure, is unique and full of character. Hyde Park Produce still amazes me with the quality and prices of its fruits and veggies. HP’s location right on the lake with the lovely park at the point is a delightful feature and it ought to be treasured. But Hyde Park is a weird place, and you notice this as soon as you need something. Let’s say you needed a pair of shoes. You’re not up for paying $100 for a pair at that place next to Treasure Island. You just want a Payless. Well, fortunately for you there is one…downtown on Michigan Avenue. Running errands in Hyde Park is never a picnic…it nearly always means leaving and going very, very far away. And getting to anywhere else from Hyde Park is way harder than it ought to be. The Metra is surely the fastest method downtown, but you need a schedule and at non-peek times there are, at most, only two trains an hour if that. The #6 bus is the next best option, but everyone knows it, which means everyone takes it, which means it is very crowded. The best method of transportation, alas, is a car. Living in a city should mean that we can live without cars, but Hyde Park makes you feverish for vehicular freedom.

To be fair, a great portion of my frustration with Hyde Park lies in my own impatient nature, and that is not Hyde Park’s fault. I love to go walking, running, and biking, basically getting outside as much as possible. But because Hyde Park is a bubble, and a small bubble at that, I know every street, every house and apartment building, even some cracks in the road, and I’m tired. I’ve exhausted Hyde Park’s charms, and I thrill to be in a new place.

And what a place.

I went for a run the other day. Not only is everything new to me and therefore intriguing, the neighborhood overflows with character. Every building had its own flourishes, and there were interesting restaurants and bars and shops and, best of all, a cupcake store right across the street from my new place. My apartment is a little over a mile from the lake, so it made for a fantastic running loop, running up and down streets of row houses of all colors and materials, across parks, past little ponds, the zoo and the botanical gardens, under Lake Shore Drive and out to Lake Michigan. People seem happier here, there is a much more cheery atmosphere about the place. Though this might have a good deal to do with Christmas cheer, I think it extends further. I feel as though I’ve come to an urban paradise of sorts, a place where everything you may need is in walking distance, right at your finger tips. I have several grocery options, a movie theater, a gym, a book store, a Potbelly’s, an Einstein Bagels, and a series of thrift stores right down the street. I feel living here will be a completely new life experience, living in a land of plenty. I am about an 8 minute walk from the Brown Line train, and a 12 minute ride to the loop. Not too shabby. The red line and the Metra are also quite close. What luxury! I can barely handle it. I’m so baffled by the ease of it all.

Oh, and did I mention, it’s cheaper than my old apartment in Hyde Park?

Now I understand. When people say that they love Chicago, they are really thinking of places like Lincoln Park.I get it now.

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