Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Can You Ever Really Know?

I spent yesterday exploring Chicago. My dear friend Wynter who has been one of my closest friends since we met at age 5 inquired, "What is there to explore that we've haven't already seen in our 39 years of living in the Chicago area?" That got me to thinking, can you ever really know where you live?

If you read my blog regularly (yes that is a plea for you to subscribe to my blog) you will know that I like to travel...a lot. In the last year I've had the absolute privilege to live, study and travel with a wide range of people from all over the world. It's really been one of the most amazing years of my life and I've met people whom I consider life long friends. It's also made me realize how rare the opportunity to expand your "world" is.

I have a few friends who just don't travel. For a myriad of reasons, they just don't. For some their decision is based on finances, some have family responsibilities, others it's lack of interest. And then there are the few who are happy at home, just at home. That's all they need. There is no desire to spend the money, deal with airport security, public transportation, sleeping in hotel beds... Their home is their neighborhood, their village, their city. Their job, their grocery store, the local theater, a park, a favorite restaurant. Their whole world in a pocket map while the rest of the world is on the internet, in TV, books or movies. And that's OK.

As a Chicagoan, I know "my Chicago". My favorite restaurants, hotels, bars, parks. I have memories of night clubs I frequented in the 80's and 90's, neighborhoods where I lived, streets where I caught cabs after late night porch parties. I know the shortcuts to avoid the highway, cheap places to park for Cubs baseball games, pubs that still have 25 cent pool tables. And still I just don't know Chicago. How can you. A city like Chicago grows like a living being. It evolves, it expands, parts die and are regenerated.

So yesterday my friend Diana and I explored. We glimpsed Chicago from the 24th floor of a high rise and saw it through the eyes of an elderly woman who is finally after 42 years leaving her Chicago home. We spent hours inside one the largest Whole Foods grocery stores, yes hours in a grocery store. Not your average grocery store but a beautiful glass building on the Chicago River with a wine bar, a coffee bar, restaurants, and lots and lots of locally produced food. To me the great thing about never really knowing where you live is that when you make a new discovery you can share it. So even if you never leave your "home", you can glimpse someone else's and then maybe we all might understand where we really "live" just a little bit better.

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