Dear Chicago

An open letter to the city that we call home and the people who make it so special.

You have been so much more than a home to us for nearly a decade now. You’ve been both teacher and friend: guiding, growing, encouraging, supporting. Both your beauty and your brokenness have pushed us beyond our comfort zones in actions and worldviews. Some of the people we hold most dear remain a part of your daily rhythm and we will always feel connected to the steady pulse of your streets.

Of course we have to mention the obvious things that have defined our time with you. We already miss your food (looking at you Tacos Tequilas, Small Cheval, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Pequod’s, and Pork Shoppe), your beer (no one can beat a good mug of Revolution, Half Acre or Hopewell), and your patios (Chief O’Neil’s we will always be back). You certainly kept us cozy and full through those long winters, which, despite our grumblings and wind-chapped faces, we will also miss. There is a bond formed throughout the city as strangers give knowing nods bundled up on the trains or push each other’s cars out of snow banks, all while celebrating the return of the good dark beers. We’ll look back with fondness on the nights we were trapped in warm apartments with friends watching the snow swirl outside the drafty windows, always passing at least one questionably sane bicyclist on the way home. Let us be clear though, we will NOT miss the “dibs” system.

Then there are the lesser known parts of you, the ones that have crept into our hearts and have reshaped our perspectives. There is a cast iron strength in your kindness, a combination that allows smiles from strangers as well as an ability to firmly stand your ground. We’ve been a part of your protests and your peace walks. While you are a deeply divided city and oppression continues for much of your population, there is a chorus of voices throughout your streets that proclaim they care and will not settle for things to remain as they are.

And that has been one of your greatest gifts to us. You have revealed to us a brokenness that pervades our lives- invisible only if we want it to be. You have made it nearly inescapable, which has opened our eyes more than any news report or political tirade. We have cried with you as we see so many past and present injustices committed towards our brothers and sisters of color, as we wince at videos of unjust police shootings which go unaddressed, as we hear leaders dismiss ideas for healing and pour their support behind more force. We’ve celebrated with our LGBTQ community as they were finally given legal rights to marry who they love, then stood on tiptoes with them as those rights continue to be pawns in a political game. We’ve seen them be stronger and more determined than we could think possible. We’ve been watched over by our neighborhood of immigrants as they were active friends and supporters in our lives. We have heard their stories, watched their children grow, and worried with them as their lives here are threatened. Chicago, your imperfect diversity has opened our minds, our hearts, our worlds.

And finally, it was throughout your city streets, in your sprawling parks, and among your vast people that we fell in love again and again. With Lake Michigan as our backdrop we worked our way through the challenges you threw to us, and there were a few. We formed a community that laughed with and supported us. We started a life together. It was in Chicago that we truly grew up and it is Chicago that we still call home. Thank you for all you have been for us.

All our love,

~Deanna and Kolt

Deanna Martin

Originally from New England but having spent 10 years in Chicago, I'm a hybrid. A Physician Assistant by profession, I love medicine and most things science-y (not space though, I'm apathetic about space). I also love trees, the ocean, languages, and the vast array of people throughout this breathtaking world of ours.

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