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Obsessions: December 21st, 2009

My hometown in Tennessee is a weird meeting point of urban and rural: It’s a tiny industrial town grown in the early 20th century from of the bones of a cluster of farms around a riverfront port. We began with rural living, we ended up (somewhat uncomfortably) small-town urban. It’s an odd cusp to exist upon.

When I first moved away from my valley town, I was pretty thorough in erasing my accent and my unsophisticated eating habits, and in learning the ways of the cities: “How do I hail a cab? How can I tell if a homeless person’s fleecing me? How do I get through subway stations quickly?” That was a long, arduous year of silent, embarrassed lessons, learning how to fit myself into the more cosmopolitan fabric of a city as enormous and sprawling as Chicago. It started the moment I got off the plane: I was the only English speaker in the train car, and one of a handful of Caucasians. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as alone, frightened, or small.

As much as I miss Tennessee in my periodic bursts of sentimentality, Chicago’s now comfortably home. Until we need to move to warmer climes, I have my grandmother’s sugar cookie recipe to satisfy my longings. So this winter, Su and I will spend a happy, quiet Christmas at home by ourselves, away from the rest of the world. Maybe next year we’ll go south again. Happy holidays, everyone.