Chicago. Sometimes I hate this beautiful, terrible city. In November we officially lose any speck of green, and by January the whole city is awash in a heavy gray, an atmosphere that just begs for escape fantasies from the vast majority of the city’s population.
And then comes the endless cold, accompanied by the winds that slap against your face and sneak in through the cracks in the original doors and windows of your 1920s apartment. The whole damn city freezes over, with just enough temporary thaws sprinkled in to taunt us into yearning for the better days.
I’ve always known the cold. I grew up in Michigan. I expect complaints about the cold from people from Florida or California, and I know there’s nothing more annoying than a Midwesterner who wails about the freezing temperatures, but unwittingly, I have become one of those people. But it’s not my imagination. It’s really colder in Chicago. Like, painfully cold. Sad cold.
Finally, I have some support. The Weather Channel recently listed Chicago as the sixth coldest major city in the U.S. When I saw that, I somehow felt absolved. Our suffering has not been in vain! Our stale long underwear, salt-covered rugs and facial crust have finally earned us something: the recognition that this city is unabashedly always seeking. We placed on a list, people. Not for something good, but for something.
True, there’s always murder and bedbugs to keep us in the nation’s eye, but God willing most of us will have no experience with either. We can be proud of this one, and it makes us feel tough.
The Official List
1. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
2. Anchorage, Alaska
3. Madison, Wisconsin
4. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
5. Omaha, Nebraska
6. Chicago, Illinois
No city after number six matters, I think we can agree.
Polar vortexes (vortices?) aside, Chicago truly can’t compete with some of the cities on the list. For example – Anchorage? Forgetaboutit. And I remember a day trip to Madison, Wisconsin, where at 3 a.m. I waited outside for a Megabus for about 30 minutes and got the closest ever to feeling like my feet had frozen solid. So we can moan and frown and sigh for all seven months of our winter, but we mustn’t forget that some folks have it worse. And at least we have O’Hare and Midway close by, so we can get the hell out of here.