And another kind of anniversary. What a difference a decade makes. On how ten years ago, to my surprise, I became a Chicagoan.
I’m happy to report the tallit of Phillip Shenkler got a hero’s welcome this morning–its first Shabbat morning in use in a congregational setting in at least 26 years.
Phillip kept the the memorial booklet from Sara’s funeral in his tallit bag for 32 years until the day he died…and no one knew it until I opened the bag another 26 years later.
Maybe it would help native and newcomer Chicagoans get along better if we had a civic creed to help us tell real Chicagoans from mere Midwestern posers. If you had to raise your right hand and swear your loyalty to Chicago in order to be considered a Chicagoan, what would your oath be?
A recent discussion thread in the popular, urbanist City-Data Forum asked for reasons why some people shouldn’t move to Chicago. Speaking as an ex-New Yorker who very annoyingly used to measure every city by the standard of the five boroughs, I can think of eight million people who might want to consider a reason to stay home.
Know this first: this is the most emotionally compelling blog I’ve ever read, and perhaps the best. A Chicago writer and pet lover loses his job, gets fed up with the economy, and decides to bike to the Pacific Ocean to promote pet adoption, with his favorite Basset Hound, Antigone, blogging the trip from her doggie trailer. But it’s the candid bravery of the human author that shines best as Antigone Goes West.
‘I was in a bilevel Burger King, with the dining room squeezed in downstairs from the order counter. I ordered something I don’t remember and a large Pepsi. I really don’t know what happened. A tremor? A foot slip? But there I was walking downstairs watching my soda tumble end over end in slow motion in front of me.’
Like all adopted Chicagoans, from time to time I get told by some other local who doesn’t agree with me to ‘go back where you came from’ if I don’t like the way things are done in the Windy City. It’s an age-old prejudice that claims being born in Chicago somehow makes you a more authentic Chicagoan than a person who moved here from a different time zone. It’s also baloney.
During their windy City visit last week, Seattle’s coolest couple, Kasey and John, waxed giddily about the fun and frolic of my downtown Chicago neighborhood. Their reaction stands in stark contrast to the one I normally get from native Chicagoans when I tell them I live downtown. It’s almost like telling a New Yorker you never ride the subway. The response is always the same: no one’s stopping you from doing it, but why would you want the hassle?
‘Once you’ve lived somewhere long enough, its landscape begins to change with you. Its landmarks–at one time foreign, empty, meaningless–begin to sprout hints of growth as you plant memories like seeds. Soon, a living breathing history of your time there begins to reveal itself.’