When you think of a city, especially such an incredibly large city as Chicago, different words come to mind and calm isn’t usually one of them. In fact calm city seems somewhat of an oxymoron, there’s always traffic to deal with, so many people, things to see and do at all hours. But it is there, it’s just that sometimes it’s hidden in the neighbourhoods, green parks or even just down those small side streets that you might not usually notice.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by busy streets and crowded high-rise buildings, especially if those are something that you’re not used to. But you eventually learn to carve out your own little calm within all of that, and really I feel as though I’m at the point now where things are so much simpler to me than they would be if I lived in the country or the suburbs.
We don’t have a car, relying on our feet to take us where we need to go. I often relish the opportunity to walk through our tree-lined streets, especially when we have good weather and even if I’m just doing something as mundane as fetching groceries.
We take things slowly, leaving enough time for Mikey to pause and examine flowers peeking through railings, to pick up small twigs and branches fallen from trees, to chat to other children when we pass them or ask to pet dogs that we might meet on our journey. For me to occasionally window shop at the pretty boutiques and antique stores that line the bigger streets. Perhaps we don’t get a whole lot done in a single day because of the long walks and the constant pauses, but that is fine because we’re intentionally taking it slowly instead of rushing from one thing to the next.
I love it because it’s something I thought that I would miss when we were getting ready to leave Germany, before we knew where we were going to be living. I thought everything was going to be big and loud. It sometimes still is, but that’s ok too because there’s inspiration of all kinds around every corner.
We may not have a backyard, perhaps one day we will. It’s something I have become used to by now, after over 4 years of apartment living (both in Germany and here in Chicago). But our outside space is the large parks and playgrounds nearby, even our small porch or the sidewalk outside of our building.
If I want to sit outside at a coffee shop and write, I can just walk outside my building and down the street. There’s an old fashioned ice cream parlor too, so we can take Mikey out for ice cream on those hot summer nights, or go to see a film at our little neighbourhood cinema.
When I go to different places and take Mikey to different things I don’t feel as though I’m rushing to a destination, the journey is a part of the process. We can walk to the park and hang out for a couple of hours before packing up to walk to his dance class a little further up the street, sometimes we might spend a little time at the library on our way home, or race one another on the sidewalks.