for the three years i’ve known him in various stages of our knowing each other, north and south down lake shore drive and 55 to and from the suburbs, the man who is now my boyfriend has played a song called god in chicago. the first time he showed it to me we sat in an invented parking space under an L line. it’s almost five minutes long and he hadn’t given up trying to convince me i should love the songs he loves yet but this was before i cared for the hold steady at all so “it’s the singer from ths” didn’t mean much. or maybe that’s not how it happened but it feels like a memory to me so that’s how i choose to remember it.
gabe always told me the hold steady is as much about the aftermath of the party as it is about the party itself. if so, god in chicago sounds like what happens after that. when you’re reeling from loss and trying to find beauty or comfort or something in some tiny moment, this is what’s there. no party, no wild night out, no web of friends; just clinging to the feeling of something new to fight off pain.
i moved to chicago hoping to find some direction and passion that wouldn’t come until i was deciding to leave it.
chicago has been my home for the last five years and the suburbs surrounding have filled the rest of the time, except for the six months i lived in paris agonizing over a move to los angeles that never happened. for much of the time i was in college i wandered around the loop, to and from classes, up and down wabash ave. that time is defined by different groups of people, most of which i don’t know anymore. most of them don’t live here anymore. and in three months, i’ll join them in moving hundreds of miles away to move forward with our lives.
god in chicago is the only craig finn solo song i’ve ever heard. it sounds like lake shore drive at night. it sounds like my roommates going out the back door on the porch to smoke. it sounds like waiting for the brown line outside in december. it sounds like all the apartments my friends’ used to call home before they moved to minneapolis or los angeles or boston. god in chicago is a song about chicago as a moment in time.
maybe one day i’ll think about the five years i spent in this city as a footnote in my life. maybe one day i’ll leave philadelphia and have these flashing images of beautiful moments i’ll look back on with a pit in my stomach the way i feel when i think about leaving now.
i wrote everything above this line back at the very start of may and it reflects where i was at with my move to philadelphia at the end of this month. i didn’t know where i was living in philly. i didn’t know what starting law school during a pandemic would look like. i was sad to not be able to go to my favorite bar or book store before i leave. i was scared i’ll end up feeling as anxious about making friends in philly to the point of isolation as i always was here.
that last one still stands.
but i have a lease now and i feel comfortable enough with leaving my favorite establishments unvisited. i just hope they survive so i can go watch horror movies and drink vodka sodas at delilah’s when i visit.
i consider the last year and a half of my life with more positivity than any year prior. i’ve lived with people i love the whole time. i’ve had more direction and drive than ever in my life. i’ve been creatively fulfilled through making zines and finding some community online around them. that community, in absence of most of my friends from college who moved away and through feeling uncomfortable with the friends of a short lived boyfriend, has kept me feeling stable.
it’s not irrelevant that the last year of my life, a year in which i relied upon the internet most to feel a sense of community, i’ve felt most comfortable. i’ve said frequently that making zines has given me a self worth and sense of self that nothing i’ve ever done has provided. i think that’s true but mostly because of the online community it brought to me.
all i can hope is that when i move this mostly east coast based network of people i’ve spoken to online for varying lengths of time can become a lovely web of people who will let me take photos of them and drink coffee with them. maybe one day shows will come back and we can do that too.
if you’ve spoken to me about moving over the last month and assured me i’ll be okay and will make friends or if you’ve offered your friendship, thank you. thank you all for listening to me and reading my tweets / zines / newsletters and for giving me a sense of confidence i’ve never really felt before. don’t let me avoid you at shows the way i’ve been avoiding leor galil at lincoln hall for far too long. we all want the same things.