A Love Letter To Chicago

This is a When Harry Met Sally duologue and I’m sitting next to nothing. It’s very sad. So maybe I’ll sit next to a honkin’ slice of deep dish. Or maybe Darryl the blind guy who gets on my red line train once every few weeks and asks for change. Or maybe everyone I high-fived outside Wrigley Field the night the Cubs won the World Series. Or maybe the delightful man in Boystown who helped pull my bike through a bunch of barriers in the middle of a rainstorm during the Pride Parade. Or maybe just all of my friends. I like the last one. I will sit next to all of my friends.

From the moment I visited, it was love at first sight. It was one of very few experiences in which I knew something “was meant to be”, and I held onto that feeling for the years to come in which I was told I couldn’t do this until I finally did this. However, my first night actually living in Chicago was…less than ideal. I insisted on wearing these chunky heels in order to fit in with all the cool urbanites. I remember coming back to Indy for the first time and saying, “Everyone tucks their shirt in and I don’t know why.” My friend I had moved here with had already been here a week, and she seemed to know her way around and have made a large group of friends while I struggled to keep up in my chunky heels. My feet started bleeding so badly that we had to switch shoes even though she was two sizes smaller than me. I rode the train home wondering if I had made a very big, overconfident mistake. But, this was my true blue introduction to my new tough loving friend. As life as I knew it did a complete 180 in the next two years and I continued to struggle to keep up in my chunky heels, Chicago said, “Get over it, bitch; I’ve got better things for you.” And despite the fact that I didn’t trust that at first, it certainly did. I met my friends from Second City like clockwork.

I met them in January of 2015. I was the youngest of everyone, and they all seemed too cool for me. But Rynee, who can’t stand anything but all-in friendship and a good time (evidenced by the fact that she cried one year when we tried to leave her five-going-on-six hour birthday party), quickly took charge, and we got each other’s phone numbers. They would sneak me into the bar across the street before I was 21, which was like, a biiiiig risque thing for me at the time. We did shows, and things like “Weens & Peens” where we grilled hot dogs and then went to see Magic Mike XXL. The first time I got very drunk was when I was dressed as a little boy with them for Halloween, and the first time I skinnydipped was directly after sumo wrestling them on Lake Geneva. The women of that group especially became my very best friends and collaborators. Emily taught me how to hustle as a writer and to care less about what others think. Lizzie taught me how to look people dead in the eye and share how much you love them. Jordan taught me how to be completely, unapologetically strange. And Rynee taught me what it means to be a supportive, all-around incredible friend. I wouldn’t be a better comedy writer or a better person today if it were not for them. We completely trust and love each other, and they will never escape me.

My roommates over the years and friends at school gave me a sense of home at home. I met Mackenzie in my orientation group after we both found ourselves giggling over the guy who walked in half an hour late because “he had to get McDonald’s”. I met Maggie and Angie on the first day of film school when other people insisted on talking about all the French New Wave films they supposedly loved, and Danny and Lauren and all the rest came shortly after during film projects and potluck dinners. I met Selena our junior year when we realized we were both obsessed with Boston Terriers and Robert Durst. Two of my roommates, Charu and Elizabeth would climb in my bed and scream at The Bachelor with me while playing with Charu’s pet turtle. I met Ryan and Jaimie on that fateful first bloody chunky heel night, where Ryan bragged that Jaimie was in the circus and Jaimie asked me ten million questions a minute. They are getting married in November. All of these people gave me a home, and someone to get donuts with. Both are equally important.

The thing I came to love about Chicago is that I could walk down the street and see a friend at almost any given time. Chicago is the biggest small town in America, and I had people I liked in every corner. If I was upset, I could walk down Halsted and see a naked gogo dancer in the window and forget what I was upset about. I could walk to Wrigley Field and have a drunk man with a wife hit on my friend and then say something conciliatory to me also. I felt alone in Chicago at first because I wasn’t really giving it a chance. How could I have felt like I didn’t belong if I hadn’t yet ridden my bike down the lakefront path at sunset in July? I keep reminding myself to give Los Angeles time, and to jump into a community as soon as I can, blablabla. But I don’t think it’ll hold a candle to Chicago. And I have to be okay with that to last.

I wish I could bring everything in this When Harry Met Sally duologue with me, but I already have three trash bags of clothes and I can already hear my parents complaining. I don’t think my happiness here fits in the car, and if it did, I’d have nothing to feel sad about.

I love you, Chicago. I won’t wear chunky heels on my first night in Los Angeles.

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