Sometimes I would become frustrated walking by the Duomo. “I have to get to class,” I thought to myself. “How many pictures could you possibly take from this angle?” I would ride the 148 down Michigan Avenue, get off and become slightly flustered when a group of shopping women were walking a bit too slow for my liking. “Really? You’re going to take up the entire sidewalk?”
It’s times like these when I have to stop myself, wipe the hint of contempt of my face and turn it into a smile as I pass. I think to myself how lucky I am to live in a tourist destination, a place that people fly thousands of miles to visit. I shouldn’t be testy when a flood of blue and red jerseys line the El cars during game day. I should be thankful they’ve taken time from their own lives, their own homes, to visit my temporary one.
It can be difficult living in a tourist city. The sheer number of people alone can give just about anyone a minor anxiety attack. Learning to cope with and navigate crowds should top your list of things to-do when making the move. But aside from the millions of residents I encounter daily, I also collide with tourists, people of all ages completely unfamiliar with the city grid and transit system. I remember visiting this city when I was younger, making the short trip north and becoming completely overwhelmed with a feeling of smallness. I loved and hated it, but I was mostly in awe by all of it.
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I’ve lost some of that awe. I know my commute to and from work, and I don’t like to stray far from it. In an effort to truly enjoy the remarkable city I’m living in, I sometimes switch up my commute, getting off at a different stop or riding another bus, just so I can learn to appreciate and get to know this place a little better. I’ve made a summer “To Do” list, much like the one I created in Florence, in an effort to truly understand Chicago’s history and what makes it so appealing to those who visit.
I love living in a tourist destination, mostly because I love seeing so many other people enjoying it as well. Whether the people I encounter were born and raised here or just visiting for the day, I appreciate that so many people have walked these streets and have fallen in love with them, just as I have.