Twelve Hours in Chicago, IL: Thoughts, Images, and Inspiration

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Photo by Jesse Hong

Click and scroll below for Gallery of photos by yours truly

A staple goal for any college students is seizing youth and freedom to its’ fullest potential. It is a time in our lives when the answer to “why?” can be “why not” without any repercussion. Why not take advantage of living in a new city with a new periphery of places within reason to visit? Why not take advantage of affordable tickets and forfeit two nights of sleep to a bus ride 7 hours away from your campus to Chicago? Because we can and because we did. But this is information widely preached to college students: travel while you’re young. You get the gist.

What’s really incredible about it, however, is less often preached by adults. If I told myself in early August that this ambitious trip would happen just three short months later with people who I only just met in college, I would be beside myself. Yet somehow serendipity ensued and threw together a diversified recipe of flavorful and loved friends to create an incredible day. This fact alone is a testament to the tender spirit of humanity and the beauty that is human relationships. In addition, with twelve short hours and no more than $100 dollars, I experienced a brand new city and got closer to friends who I could already consider family. Naturally, if a group of eighteen year olds make such an adventure together, things will go wrong. There will be miscommunications. There will be people thinking it’s a good idea to order a whole pizza five minutes before your Uber driver is due to arrive. There will be a moment of universal exhaustion when it’s 5am and you’re sitting in a bus station in Indianapolis choking down popcorn because you’re poor and hungry, in which you want to punch everyone around you. But all of this is part of the experience. These are the stories you will tell your children and grandchildren. And hey, when you go home for summer break, it’s accepting adventures like these that make you one up all your home friends’ college stories. Another note about such travel is that it really helps you learn your loved ones. A person’s habits shine brightly through their travel tendencies. But ultimately, whether their habits are annoying or strange, it highlights their uniqueness. In the heat of intimacy catalyzed by intense shared experiences, no matter how negative the quality, you can’t help but love your friends for better or for worse.

But I know what you’re thinking. This is an artist’s blog; how does this relate to my craft? Well, the answer should be clear. One cannot make great art without great experience. It is one thing to read about things and understand them cerebrally (not to knock it. I place great value in learning through second hand experience. Through a book you can travel the world).  However, it is a completely different situation to taste the experiences with your own tongue. To walk where history walked, and to do it with loved ones. To develop real relationships with real depth while experiencing real things. To walk down a deserted Navy Pier with just one good friend, or to stand 103 stories high on a glass floor with people you love (no doubt there is a metaphor about trust building here). This produces a depth of understanding of the world, that will give your art a depth of insight.

I also learned something about myself along my travels. New Jersey will always be my home and New York City will always be my city. It is undeniable that Chicago is a cleaner and more friendly version of the Big Apple. However, it’s not home. It is important as no only a human but as an artist to understand that places just as much as people make personal connections, and it is imperative to know where those lye. Knowing your literal and artistic comfort zone is the first step to forcing yourself to branch out from it, while still not denying it as they are inherent parts of who you are.

Always travel. Never say no to adventure. Even when things go wrong, for an artist it can be transformed into something so right.

See below for a gallery of photos I took along my 12 hours of travel in the beautiful Chicago, Illinois. Including some beautiful sights, beautiful events, and beautiful people.

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