Stories from my heart
Chicago and back to Madison
I have been fortunate to spend more time in Chicago over the last couple of years. When I was in my early 20’s, my friends and I
would travel there to visit the hottest clubs, hear the lasted music — that hadn’t gotten to Madison yet — get our hair done, and spend
money at clothing boutiques, wig shops and great shoe stores. We loved the disco music, colorful clothes, big hair and city lights. It all
seemed so far from home, adventurous and exciting. 30 years later, times have changed and so have I … but it’s still wonderful
traveling to Chicago for shopping, listening to the radio stations and reconnecting with old and new friends. The biggest difference is
my rediscovery of “My New Chicago”.
Today, I spend time in great restaurants, Michigan Avenue, galleries, theatres, music venues, comedy shows and wonderful
private and public parties, festivals and events. Chicago never sleeps, has several events going on every weekend with museums,
institutes, Navy Pier, Lake Michigan and several scheduled cultural events. It is a Mecca of culture and a city with pride.
The news media often covers stories about the killings, gangs, schools and communities in a negative way, leaving those who
haven’t discovered all that Chicago has to offer with fear and/or concern about traveling there. I have discovered a prosperous, warm,
engaging and beautiful place called Chicago and would love to be Obama’s neighbor in Hyde Park, attend the weekly poetry slams, be
a regular at a Black owned boutique, listen to Steve Harvey every morning on my way to work and know that I am in the right backyard.
In my work, I have had many conversations with people about why they move to Madison Wisconsin. During our conversations,
most have not known the Chicago I have found, but rather the impoverished communities, high crime and ill-equipped schools. It was
hard for me to consider how much beauty and wealth they had not discovered. Then I remembered my own neighborhood and what it
held for me, how I knew little of other neighborhoods and felt out of place in a stranger’s backyard.
While Chicago can be wonderment, Madison has much to offer to all that live, work, play and visit here. We are also a proud
community with many events and venues for everyone … right in our own backyard. I won’t stop visiting Chicago, but I will continue to
enjoy all that Madison has to offer and while doing that, I will be neighborly and bring others along. It is a time of reflection for me and
many others. There is comfort in knowing where you’re from and why you were there.