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NOLA-Chicago comparison...

(That's me on the right)

Over twenty years ago, my friend and I moved to Chicago into a sublet in Lincoln Park, a hip, happening' area just north of Chicago that isn't easy on the wallet. I had about a grand in my pocket and quickly went into credit card debt.

I made the move on a whim, merely for the adventure with every intention to return home to New Orleans. Little did I know I'd stay.

There was plenty of traffic and people walking around, as there were so many shops, restaurants and bars. The young people hustling and bustling was contagious and exciting. Little by little I learned how the two cities were different and how they were the same.

So, here’s how I compared New Orleans to Chicago when I first arrived: I tried telling people hi when in close proximity in a store or as I passed them on the street in Lincoln Park and downtown and the reception was not so positive. I was ignored, looked at funny and even avoided. I quickly learned to stop greeting people as if I knew them. But, come to find out, as I made new friends, the people here are just as friendly as New Orleans once they know you're not a stranger who wants something from them.

Driving was strange. I was flipped the bird for the first time in my first week and not because I was driving poorly. I just wasn’t in a rush. People that are bad drivers in New Orleans are oblivious to it and the bad drivers in Chicago do it on purpose. I do find it very irritating when people in bumper-to-bumper traffic won’t let you merge. A lot of drivers in Chicago believe that being in front of you is an advantage. My accent was either charming or a source of ridicule and throw in pronunciation like “C-ment” and "ambu-LANCE" and it was the funniest thing to them. I’ve since lost most of the accent. Chicago is clean and New Orleans is not so clean, although the touristy parts stay pretty clean.

Food? That's an argument for another time.

The city of Chicago also squeezes every possible nickel it can and is always inventing new ways to take more. In return, it's run very well. New Orleans? You put up with the bad for the lifestyle you won't find anywhere else. Living there makes the incompetent political system tolerable. Overall, I love living in Chicago or I would’ve moved back a long time ago. Every now and then, I run into a New Orleans native and the connection is instantaneous. We can spout off locations and in many cases, people we know in common.

There is one woman I met in Chicago that had eleven people in common with me and we had never met. I think I’m very lucky to have had the experiences in New Orleans as well as Chicago, two great cities in the world. Maybe it's time to base a book in Chicago.

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