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Cultural column

November 10, 2017

Lily Guillen / The Courier

When I first asked Gabby if I could write about her, she said that her experiences in Chicago and how she turned out don’t match that of your average Chicagoan. She is, to an extent, right. I’ve known her for about a year and a half, and she’s definitely not your average Chicagoan. But, then again, who is? What does that even mean? If there is anything this series has taught me, it’s that there is no such thing as a universal blueprint for how someone is impacted by their culture, homeland, or their life experiences. Typically that’s the line saved for the last part of the column, in case you haven’t noticed. But here, it serves as a preface. Not because Gabby is weird. But because she is perfectly normal in her “weirdness.” And more than that, she’s comfortable with it all.

Almost immediately, her answers about living in Chicago mirror some of my own experiences there. It can be a negative, at times. I mean, of course there would be. We’ve chatted before about the violence, the stupid sugar tax, and it being generally expensive. Of course. The things you hear about Chicago when you don’t live there. But Gabby immediately notes that she wouldn’t trade living there for anything. I mean, think about it. Chicago can be an amazing city. Yes, it has its issues, but it is home for Gabby. It’s home for a lot of people. Popping fireworks on the 4th of July, going to cookouts, correcting visitors who think Harold’s is the best thing since sliced bread, and so forth. It didn’t take long at all to decide that for all the “difference” that Gabby was worried about before the questions, she’s a bona fide Chicagoan.

Culture, it seems, is weird like that. “The Red Line smells bad” and “Giordano’s is overrated” become parts of a shared culture that, honestly, is hard to really describe outside of just talking to
her. Or any Chicagoan. There are some that would throw a rock at me for blaspheming the name of Harold’s Chicken. Some people are wrong and believe that Lou Malnati’s isn’t the best pizza in the city. That isn’t the point. And honestly, I don’t quite know what is. I enjoyed my chats with Gabby about Chicago. That seems to be the point. The fun of this column has always been learning what other people love about their cultures, homelands, and identities. For this particular interview, with this particular person, though, the fun was in sharing the experience, if not quite the bad food opinions.

Anthony Adams
Political Editor

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