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  • Writer's pictureAmy Kraft

There's No Place Like Home

I was out to dinner with some people I recently met last week and we were talking about podcasts we like.

"I'm really looking for podcasts about Chicago or made in Chicago," one woman said. "There are so many about New York City and I want people to know that this city is cool, too." The woman looked to me for confirmation.

"Well you're talking to a woman who just moved here from NYC, so..." I didn't know how to finish the sentence and hoped someone would chuckle uncomfortably to fill in the void.

"Oh how do you like it here?" she said.

I dreaded that question, because, well, I'm not a good liar. I tried deluding myself into thinking the move was going to be great, even went so far as to joke about starting an Instagram account titled, "Chicago is Better than New York," but it turns out, that would be like selling my soul to Satan.

Let me be clear, Chicago is not a bad city: it is just not for me. Everything's too spread out, winter is way too long, and Chinese delivery takes an hour to arrive! The first time we ordered I remember getting a phone call from the delivery person 50 minutes after I called in the order because he couldn't find anywhere to park. "You're in a car?" I said, astonished by his preferred mode of transportation.

Sebastien and I have discussed moving back to New York. It was our home for 12 years and so many important life events happened there: I started a career in journalism, we got married and had a child, and I was an extra in some poorly recieved movies and a sitcom that didn't make it past season 1.

Now I know I can have these things too in Chicago, it just takes time. And I'm a really impatient person. Perhaps that's why I bounced around from city to state to country so often before finding my home in New York City. I told Sebastien that I was willing to give Chicago a year before deciding this place isn't for me. "Let's at least experience spring and summer here," I said. Surely the third largest city in America has some redeemable qualities.

But I'm still having trouble with my discomfort in not having a place to call home. And I'm looking for outside things to blame. Currently the city of Chicago is getting a taste of my wrath. Every mistake, every wrong, every minor injustice is the fault of this inanimate, unfeeling city. "Dammit Chicago," I'll say whenever I miss a bus or a train, looking to fellow delayed passengers for confirmation. But they're usually looking down at their phones or have ear buds in so pay no attention to me.

The other day I grabbed a yogurt from the fridge and when I sat down to eat it, noticed that the top was slightly opened. Unsure if I had done that when I got it out of the fridge or if it had been sitting open and exposed to the elements for days, I opted to get rid of it. "Fucking Chicago, what kind of a city is this?" I said, tossing it in the trash.

And I'm reluctant to even try and embrace this city. I refuse to do the typical things a person does to help themselves get better acquainted to living in a new city, like getting a new I.D. card. I have to get a Real ID by October if I want to travel domestically without carrying my passport, and I'd rather take on that extra burden if it means I can keep my NYC license a few years more. I haven't been to a doctor for my annual check-up because I'm not ready to say goodbye to the one I had in New York, and I need to find a way back home before I go into labor with my second child because both of my kids have to be born in New York City.

My only source of comfort in these dark times is finding things that remind me of home. I'll go out of my way in the morning to visit the NYC Bagel Deli even though I wasn't a big fan of bagels to begin with, or I'll find parks that are central to something so I can identify them as Central Park. And I've decided that we have to move to the Chicago neighborhood that's equivalent to the Upper West Side so I can hopefully recreate my life in New York City, for a third of the price.

For now though, I'm stuck in a bit of a rut. It's getting to the point where outside help might be required, but as mentioned, I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to a doctor in this city, aside from the obligatory doctor for the sake of my unborn child. On the bright side, though, I do really like my gynecologist here.

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