One year ago today (right around this time actually), I was entering the city of Chicago. My dear friend who rode with me was clutching to her door handle for dear life as we drove on I-90 pulling a small U-Haul behind us. Although that first parking experience was traumatic, I stuck it out. One winter, two apartments, 364 days with too many side jobs to count – Here I am! I feel as though I should impart some great wisdom that the big city has taught me…but here’s all I can come up with:
- When getting on a train or bus, make sure you are traveling in the right direction. Actually, this also applies to walking.
- If you ever find you are walking in the wrong direction: 1. Stop. 2. Stare at your phone. 3. If you are positive that the blue dot was moving the wrong way, pretend to type a text message. 4. Stare at your screen for five more seconds. 5. Turn around and walk in the opposite direction.
- When the taxi light is on, it means they are available to pick someone up. Unless they just don’t give a shit and pass you by with an empty backseat.
- It’s probably not a good idea to let strange men into your apartment. Especially if the man in question wants to climb through your window.
- If you live in apartment, get used to hearing every movement of your upstairs neighbor. More than likely, you will also smell every meal of every tenant on your hall.
- When cars are exiting an alley, protocol is to honk their horn to warn oncoming traffic of their presence. If you happen to be standing near the alley, they are not honking at you. You are not as hot as you think you are.
- Most people take their shoes off when entering someone else’s apartment/house. If you don’t know this rule, your friends will have no problem asking you to take off your shoes that have been defiled with dirt/urine/god knows what from the city streets and sidewalks.
- It will probably snow in April. Prepare yourself. Crying is a totally appropriate response.
- Places people expect you to know in Chicago: The Art Institute, The ‘Bean’ in Millenium Park, Hancock Building, Willis Tower (sometimes Sears Tower, name varies depending on who you ask but it’s the same place!), Navy Pier, and Wrigley Field.
- People are busy – and they live more than five minutes away from you. Planning a social outing usually involves way more preparation than ‘Hey what are you doing tonight?’ Get a calendar so you can keep up with your obligations.
- Repeat after me: Bears, Blackhawks, and Cubs. For extra credit you might need to know White Sox, but this is usually not on the exam.
- They play hockey here. It’s kind of a big deal.
- Remember, it’s the Midwest. So most people (not all), are actually pretty nice….well, at least decent.
I have probably learned way more than that, but that’s all I’ve got at the moment. I can’t believe it’s been one year. I guess time flies when you work a billion jobs, have an unpaid apprenticeship, make new friends, assistant stage manage a show, direct three different projects (all only 10 minute plays – but still), keep in touch with old friends, schedule time to see new friends, try to see as many plays as you can afford, and every so often binge watch an entire television series on Netflix.
So I leave you with these timeless words from the prophet Ferris Bueller (ashamed to say I didn’t realize that movie took place in Chicago until after I moved here):
The question isn’t “what are we going to do,” the question is “what aren’t we going to do?”
Ok, I couldn’t just pick one quote, so here’s one more:
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
This most certainly is not the end of my Chicago Adventures. More to come.