A few weeks ago, I was inspired to write about why I prefer living in a big city. As a resident of Chicago, I can honestly say that I have fallen in love with just about everything this city has to offer. The incredible architecture, history, dining, tech scene, diverse neighborhoods, shopping. Everything.
That inspiration came to me while I was visiting home, a small town in central Illinois with a population of approximately 12,000. Sitting in a small cafe, I heard two women talking about the sprawling metropolis I now call home. One woman, perhaps in her early twenties, was telling her friend that she visited Chicago for a small shopping trip. And though she was mesmerized by Michigan Avenue and its dazzling lights, she would not want to live there. Her friend mentioned she had never even visited.
They started discussing the reasons they preferred living in a small community. One of the women said she loved knowing her neighbors. She loved that she could have a bonfire every night if she wanted. She loved having her own seemingly never ending space.
So I asked myself, why do I love living in this city so much? And I found it quite easy to compile a list.
I will never be able to see or do all that this city has to offer, though I make my best effort. I have the opportunity to meet so many people that are unlike myself. People that were born and raised around the world that came to Chicago, lured by any of its countless opportunities. I like not having to depend on a car to get where I need to go. I’m entranced by the rich history that surrounds me, no matter where I am. So on and so forth.
Yesterday, however, I was reminded of the love, compassion, and kindness so abundant in times of tragedy, no matter how big or small the community you live in. Tragedy hit Gifford, Illinois, just six miles from my hometown. Friends, family of friends, and former classmates were faced with disaster, forced to pick up the pieces of a life that was put together just moments before.
The outpouring of love was instant. I am amazed by how genuinely good people are. I saw messages of thanks, gratitude, relief, sorrow, and concern. People asked how they could help. And I realize that the people living in that community are so fortunate to have the support they do, to know their neighbors, and to be able to depend on them when the unthinkable happens. And I understand how you wouldn’t want to call any other place home.
If you want to learn more about the rebuilding efforts in Gifford and how to help, please visit the Gifford, IL Tornado Recovery page.