I grew up in Denver. It’s where 16 years of my education were completed, where the first two years of my career were built, and where most of my family still lives.
I moved to Chicago six months ago.
People often ask me which of the two cities I love more. To be honest, the two are truly incomparable. To choose between them is to be asked to compare your first car (the one you drove for miles on end, depleting the quarter tank you could afford, with all the windows down, the radio up, and your first love by your side) to the first model you bought when your career really took off.
The two simply aren’t on the same plane.
When it comes to Denver and Chicago, one is and always will be my hometown, and will forever hold a role in my heart that no other place can have. Denver represents comfort and familiarity – of driving the same highways now that I raced along at 16, then took to get back to college in the fall and then crawled along, during rush hour, to commute to work after I graduated. Denver is eating the same sandwich at the cafe I worked my first job, looking at the same mountain range I have a million times before (and believing that it is, for me, my very own – in a way that it cannot be anyone else’s.) Denver is more than skiing; more than snow. Denver is my hometown.
Chicago, however, is where I live. And, in that sense, it is very much my very own too. It is energy and vibrance; it is multitudes more people than Denver – and it is coexisting; communal. It is movement at all hours; the density of pedestrians and cabs, of public transportation and real estate built layered over itself. There is excitement here that Denver doesn’t hold, and it is Chicago that pushes me to do more, to stimulate the senses, to flee the nest instead of curling up inside it.
While Denver is a place of comfort, Chicago is a place of inspiration.
Both hold equal places in my heart. And both are, in their own right, equally my “home.”