Riding the L in your socks

The last time I stepped foot in Chicago for longer than a 3 day period was in August of 2004. I had recently returned from a 3-week solo backpacking trip to Europe and was ready to start my career in advertising. My friend Mark, who also just graduated from Carolina, had an older sister in the city so we decided to bunk up with her for a few days and see if we could get jobs. We printed off about 30 resumes each, dusted off our Men’s Warehouse suits and laced up our dress shoes. We didn’t know exactly who we wanted to target that day, but the downtown loop seemed like the obvious choice for young bucks. Michigan Avenue was the busiest street that day, as is probably every day, so that’s where we started aimlessly walking into high rises. Little did we know that most of Michigan Avenue is a popular tourist laden street with shops and hotels and trust me there were no shortage of foreign gawkers that day. Mark and I walked proudly with our resumes getting rejected by nearly 90% of the grand foyers we stepped into. We tried endlessly to charm our ways to the elevators after finding out what companies occupied the building and when we realized there was absolutely no chance, we opted to leave a handwritten note that said “Dear Human Resources, XYZ Communications, floor 37.” After thinking about it, I’m positive those never made it to their destination. During the afternoon of our city stomp Mark got an interview with Chase Bank on the spot and that marked the start of his career in banking. For me, the only thing that came out of this day was a story of a young go-getter mentality. I can’t recommend applying for jobs this way, but if you must, make sure you wear comfortable shoes because the blister I received from walking downtown Chicago was the worst imaginable. And yes, I rode the train home in my socks.

Fast forward to September 12th 2011. Today marks the 1 week anniversary of my move to Chicago and it couldn’t have had a better week except for getting 2 parking tickets and spending 9 hours at 2 DMV’s, a social security office, an Alderman office, and 2 city clerks. I had the opportunity to not only go out with friends I haven’t seen in about a year, but I met more random people, friends of friends, in the course of 2 days than I had met in a total of 9 months of living in Raleigh, NC. Bold statement, but arguably true.  Not only that, but the conversations I had were uncomparably energetic, witty and down to earth. Maybe I just got lucky because my friends here are great people. Or maybe it’s something in the Midwest/Rust Belt water. I’d like to think that there is some weird connection between Midwesterners because I’ve never experienced more positive conversations in one week. For me, it really comes down to the simplest of commonalities and care free, non judgemental attitudes. It was a pleasure hearing about peoples favorite college football teams and the ones they hated, industries they work in, cool restaurants I need to check out in town or learning about piece of art they picked up at the local festival. In reality, you get what you put into a conversation, and I was definitely feeding off the buzzy vibe of the city. One of the greatest spectacles of the weekend was standing in the middle of a crowd on Wells St listening to Chicagoans break out and dance to the 80’s cover band 16 Candles. You all are awesome and rocked out like nobody was watching. I didn’t break down and dance that night, but I did belt out the chorus of Huey Lewis and The News – The Power of the Love. An appropriate cover after last weeks release of the Nike Mags featured in Back to Future.  I’ve never felt more comfortable, more at home and more excited to continue the next chapter here in Chicago and I look forward to the good times ahead. Thank you all for the warm welcome.

CANT WAIT FOR WINTER! FREEZE CITY WOOP!

@pagvan

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