For the past six years I've been a student at an institution that gives me an entire four weeks from mid-December to mid-January off from school. I have always spent this time at home in Chicago with my family. I've never particularly liked returning to New York in January after my long winter break in New York, but I forgot just how sharp the shock of returning to NYC can be. I've been back for a week now, and it feels like forever.
Oddly, one of the things I miss most about Chicago when I'm not there is the local NPR affiliate, WBEZ. Although I can't fault WNYC, WBEZ is the sound of home. I've been listening to it on the internet a great deal this past week. Right now they are announcing the temperature across various suburbs: "16 in Glendale, 14 in Merrillville..."
When I listen to this weather report I feel like I speak a secret language: Merrillville is in Indiana, not terribly close to Chicago, and yet right now I'd almost rather be there than here. Okay, that's just romantic sentiment, I would not rather be in Merrillville, IN than New York City. But I do feel like one of the things that makes New York City bearable is that many of the people who live here hail from nearby places - Connecticut, New Jersey, upstate New York - and can return home frequently if they so desire. I can't.
This may be my last six months in New York. Right now I am waiting to hear from a variety of institutions - none of them in New York - as to whether I have been accepted for further study. If none of these options comes through, I am seriously considering returning to Chicago. It's not a decision I take lightly. This city has been very good to me, and I recognize that Chicago might not hold the same opportunities I have had here. But when I sit and look out on Second Avenue and listen to the traffic report from Shadow Traffic, the woman listing the forty-minute stretch of the Edens to Pulaski, my thoughts go somewhere else, and my body longs to follow.