The Cubs won the World Series this week. That really happened. And as I stood in Wrigleyville watching the crowd celebrate, all I could think was “Good LORD, I love Chicago.”
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a baseball fan. Growing up, it was always fun to go to the games, but it was never really about the game – it was about a fun day in the city with hot dogs, beer and some sunshine. That being said, no matter how bad the Cubs were, everyone always looked forward to going to Wrigley Field. The iconic stadium, the lively neighborhood, the infectious energy… how could you be mad about spending a summer day/night like that?
The thing is, there really is something kind of magical about Wrigley Field. The ivy, the old scoreboard, the crazy bleacher section, the rooftops all around… it’s a special experience when you’re there, win or lose. You can’t help but get a sense of something bigger than baseball. The sense that people have been coming here with their families, friends, loved ones for over 100 YEARS. Eating peanuts and hot dogs and singing Take Me Out To The Ball Game. Watching a game in that same spot and then going home to their apartment in one of Chicago’s many neighborhoods, just like we do. But this year has been different. It’s not just about Wrigley Field – this time it’s about the team and the fans in a way that I’ve never experienced before. First of all, the team is full of extremely talented guys… yet they still seem so familiar. Do you know what I mean? They’re just normal dudes playing a sport they love and chasing their dream of winning the World Series.
You could see how badly they wanted it the whole way through. You could feel how determined they were to make it happen, and how grateful they were for the opportunity to be playing baseball and making history in Chicago. When they lost 2 games in a row and everyone said it was over, they kept fighting. They made this whole series feel like an inspirational 90s sports film in the BEST possible way. They made all of us believe that it was possible.
And the fans?! The die-hard fans have been unconditionally loving the Cubs for most of their lives. No matter how many heartaches, they would patiently (and usually enthusiastically!) say “there’s always next year.” Despite the years and years and years of disappointment, fans would still hope for a different outcome – and since so many never got to see it (this wall, ugh my heart!), I’m taking this time to recognize how cool it is that I ran out onto the streets of Wrigleyville with swarms of other fans to celebrate the night the Cubs won the World Series in 2016.
And that brings me to my love for Chicago!! There are W flags everywhere you look. Lights creating W’s and Cubs logos on our downtown buildings. People high fiving each other as they walk down the street. Support everywhere you look. There is a sense of community in this city that I never felt when I lived in New York. This is by no means a bash at NYC, but there is an atmosphere of “every man for himself” out there… and obviously DUH, that could just be because of my own personal life at that time – but regardless, that is SO different from my experience living in Chicago.
Everyone rushed the streets because we were in it together. It sounds corny, but it was powerful! I watched grown men cry. Strangers hug each other. Fireworks light up the sky. “A sea of happy humanity.” Forgetting about the 100 years of loss and focusing on the joy of the win. In my experience, that is what Chicago represents.
And I’m not trying to be naive to the violence or government issues here… but in MY experience, the people that I’ve met here are hard working, persistent, and optimistic. They say thank you if you hold the door open for them. They get through our brutal winters just fine because they know our summers are the freaking best. They know how to put the work in to get what they want. And above all else, my favorite thing is that Chicagoans just LOVE Chicago. They love when anyone from Chicago succeeds, they get the feels when they pass the Chicago River on a beautiful day (no matter how many times they’ve done that walk) and they LOVE their sports teams.
I guess I felt this a little bit when I was little, back in the Bulls glory days, but honestly – I think it took me leaving and coming back as an adult to really appreciate it. Growing up in the suburbs was lovely, but I always felt like there was more out there… which is why I couldn’t wait to get to Syracuse and then I couldn’t wait to get to New York. But it turns out the best place for me was close by all along. That city I had always liked, but never really knew was waiting for me. And it’s been over 4 years since I made the move, but this city continues to challenge me, excite me, inspire me, and impress me. And I think it’s just because this city is the best city <3
And now that they won, it’s time for the merch!! Not only do we all need new world champ gear – this stuff will make Holiday Shopping SO easy this year! Thank you, Cubbies 🙂 (Already added this and this to my cart!)