For the whole time I lived in Philadelphia, I struggled to feel comfortable. In Chicago, I’ve always felt an innate sense of comfort. There’s a comfort in the buildings and the trees and the way the names of the streets feel rolling off my tongue. I didn’t grow up in the city and wouldn’t claim to, but living in the suburbs means the world is oriented around it. Chicago was the sun that our world revolved around. It feels natural. Why would I want to live anywhere else?
For a few years, though, it felt like giving up to just run back to Illinois, so I had to redefine what home meant. I’ve written a lot about it— this search for comfort and home— but essentially it broke down to this:
Home, as a feeling in my body, might not be the city I live in, but it can be the bars I sit at and the bartender saying it’s nice to see me. It can be crying while I walk home from the first bar in West Philly I ever considered my favorite and sitting on a stoop to reply to my friends’ messages and listen to the songs I love most. Home can be my friends’ houses I’ve woken up in and walking past the places they used to live in knowing those places look different inside than in my memories. It can be painting my nails the same color that I helped my roommate paint theirs and it can be— and was— comparing how much our nails have chipped two weeks later. Home doesn’t have to be a place that makes you feel something, home can be people and that can be fine.
I decided to move back to Chicago because I knew my options were either (1) get an apartment alone in Philly and have to commit to the city for at least three years because I am so sick of moving or (2) move back and do those things in Chicago. The choice felt obvious, so I told all my friends and convinced my dad to fly out to help me drive the U-Haul the 700 miles back west.
Now that I’m back, I feel god in the buildings. I feel like I can breathe deeply in a way I never could for the last few years. I sat on my new apartment floor with my best friend and gossiped. I turned off the GPS in my car to drive the streets I prefer. I went to the wedding of two people I’ve known for much of my life— two people who have acted as glue holding together groups of friends stretching back to elementary school. I saw dozens of people I haven’t spent much time with since graduating high school, but love and cherish nonetheless.
I think about the life I developed over the few turbulent years I lived in Philadelphia and how proud I am of the person I became in that time. I’m so proud to have the friends I have now. I’m happy to see their faces on my phone telling me about going to New York and what show they’re going to and how they’re spending their Friday. I see them in the photos on my fridge and their art and album release posters on my walls. I think moving means accepting home is something distant, too.
When I moved to Philly I wrote about it and I talked about “God In Chicago” by Craig Finn. Today I’ll end with Craig again.
I won’t miss the city but I’ll miss all the friends. They’re still a home of their own.
Recently I wrote a retrospective on tbe 1975's first album for stereogum! Check that out if you havent!
I also participated in a zine celebrating the 10 year anniversary of The Greatest Generation by The Wonder Years alongside a bunch of great other writers! You can order one of those FOR FREE! Check it out!!
Miranda Reinert is a music adjacent writer, zine maker, podcaster and law school drop out based in Chicago. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram for more insights into the stuff I love and hate and love to hate: @mirandareinert. This blog does have a paid option and I would so appreciate any money you would be willing to throw me! You may also send me small bits of money at @miranda-reinert on venmo/on Paypal if you want. As always, thanks for reading!