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Ask Chicagoist: A Cure for Chicago Homesickness?

By Thales Exoo in Miscellaneous on Jan 21, 2008 4:10PM

2008_01_askhomesick.jpgDear Chicagoist -

I moved from Chicago to Moline for work in late August. I like it out here, but over the last couple weeks, I've been missing Chicago something fierce. This is the first time I've ever lived outside the city - college doesn't count because I still came back for breaks.

Anyway, here's the question: How can I get my Chicago fix without spending my rent/grocery money to pay for gas for the 320-mile round trip? I'm open to whatever suggestions you may have, though I may have to stop short of creating a mural of the skyline on my living room wall simply because photo paper and ink are expensive.

Bill M.

Dear Mr. M,

You are obviously already doing the number one thing you can do to get your taste of Chicago while sequestered elsewhere in the world -- reading Chicagoist every day! Seriously.

What else can you do?

Besides Chicagoist, we think visiting the city via the internet is one of the best ways to feel like you're still in touch with Chicago. There are plenty of news sites and local blogs so you can keep in touch with what's happening better than most people who even live here. Read the local newspapers. Plus don't forget how pervasive photographs are online now -- browse flickr and picasa for photos of Chicago to keep tabs on changes around the city.

The mural idea is pretty good, really, but you might want to think a little smaller (and therefore cheaper) and print out or purchase some nice photographs of things in the city you miss, and frame them. Be creative. Don't just pick touristy postcard snapshots (but don't discount them, either). Pick things that make you think of Chicago, be it the skyline, the L, the lake, the street where you used to live, your favorite coffee shop or bar, a restaurant with a great memory attached, or the CTA bus stop sign for your most frequented route. Everyone has their own take on the city, and we think having your shrine reflect Bill M.'s Chicago is the way to go.

Some other ideas, you decide how cheesy they are, include making a Chicago-themed music playlist of your favorite local artists, songs that mention Chicago, and songs that make you think of Chicago; reading some books about Chicago or set in Chicago; having a personal Chicago movie film fest; and buying t-shirts from your favorite Chicago destinations (gyms, restaurants, neighborhood bars) and wearing them exclusively. Or just buy yourself some of the stuff we featured in our holiday gift guide this past holiday season.

Keep in touch with family and friends who are still here in the city, and make sure they give you details about aspects of the city you're interested in. Don't annoy them with requests for a detailed description of every single sidewalk crack by your old apartment, but email, phone and IM your friends so you still know what's going on in their lives. If you still feel close to your friends in Chicago, we think that you won't feel like Chicago's all that far away.

We also think it's pretty important to try to embrace your new home. No place will be Chicago, but the more you become invested in your new community, the less we think you'll miss Chicago. Figure out what you love about Moline and what you'd miss if you moved, and become a real member of the town, not just an interloper whose heart is still in Chicago. (But don't stop reading Chicagoist!)

Of course, if that doesn't work -- just move back!

How would you keep getting your Chicago fix if you had to move away?

"Ruby Slippers" photo via AICAD

Feeling like there's no place like home? Need some advice? Email ask(at)chicagoist(dot)com.