Earlier this week, we drove up to the north shore to visit our 98-year-old uncle. He had just gotten back home after being hospitalized for pneumonia. We found him in better shape than we expected, and it was a good visit, but still it was a melancholy occasion.
Driving up into the northern suburbs reminds me of the leafy, tranquil suburbs in which I grew up. Sometimes I marvel that I’m living in the city, and that I’ll probably live here for the rest of my life. Because when I go to places like Evanston and Highland Park, I feel the most powerful pull, and I think to myself, “This is so beautiful . . . this is what I’m familiar with . . . this is where I belong . . . here I’d feel at peace.”
I imagine many Chicagoans feel this way. So many of us come from someplace else and make our home in the city, often thinking that it’s temporary, our tastes and attachments partly formed in other places—childhood homes in the suburbs, the small-town Midwest, years spent in neighboring states and cities. On holidays you can measure the pull of these native places, as city streets empty and parking spots are suddenly plentiful. The true denizen of Chicago is a rarity.
We drove all the way back along Sheridan Road, where I enjoyed seeing all the natural beauty and the glorious houses and landscaping. A few houses were decorated for Halloween. In the next week or so, it’d be worth going back, to see the foliage and the seasonal decorations as they peak.