Dear Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable,
Hi there. My name’s Austin. You don’t know me. We’ve never met. In fact, we never will meet, because I won’t be born for about 200 years. But anyway, I hope this letter finds you well.
I have some good news for you! You know how you just moved into a festering bog surrounded by endless fields of rancid onions? Well, you won’t be alone for long! Little by little, lots of people are going to be moving to your festering bog. Dozens of people, then hundreds, then thousands, then millions.
Right now, in my time, your stinking bog is actually a sprawling metropolis called Chicago. It’s home to 3 million people, not to mention the 5 million who live in the suburbs that ring it. It’s a wonderful, world-renowned city, full of gleaming skyscrapers, priceless cultural treasures, and food and people from all over the earth.
Which means that you, my dear Haitian, are the father of one of the world’s greatest cities. Cool, huh?
As a Chicagoan myself, I owe you a debt of gratitude for founding my town. I love this city. So, I feel a little bad when I say this, but I’d like to ask you for a tiny, tiny favor.
Please move. Please found Chicago somewhere else.
Let me explain.
Chicago’s great except for one thing, one thing you may have noticed. The weather. It sucks. It really, really sucks. It’s got hot, muggy summers and brutal, frigid winters. It’s going to get stuck with the nickname “The Windy City” eventually, and not because of those pleasant breezes coming off the lake you might be feeling right now.
About that lake. As you know from sailing up and down it, it’s pretty big and pretty long and kind of phallic in shape. In fact, it will eventually be called “Lake Michigan,” from an Indian word meaning, “Big Schlong-Shaped Lake.”
And here’s the thing: it freezes over in winter. Which means that in winter, Arctic winds sweeping down from the Canadian tundra pass over 300 miles of schlong-shaped ice before hitting the city at its tip.
So, for four to five months every year, all the millions of the city’s people are bombarded with frigid, powerful winds made into gusty typhoons of freezing pain after coming down across 300 miles of that big, icy schlong. It blows.
Now, I haven’t even gotten to the ceaseless gray cloud cover yet. Or the snow. Dear God, the snow! The snow that falls sideways in driving winds, accumulates in deep piles, then melts into a disgusting gray slush that cakes the whole city in filth for months at a time. You think your stinking bog is miserable looking now? Wait two centuries until it’s a sea of gray slush under endless gray skies.
It’s pretty bad. But, you know, we could deal with that. It’s a wintry city. Fair enough. Right now, it’s summer and those cold, dark memories are far, far away.
But it’s the summer that really sinks it. After seven months of winter (have I mentioned that we don’t really have spring or autumn here?), all we want is a nice summer. We deserve it. And normally we get it. Two to three months of warm, sunny days that we spend drinking beer at crowded street festivals with “mandatory donations.”
The past two years, though… well, last year we didn’t have summer. Well, we did, but it lasted two weeks in late July. Other than that, it was rather chilly and rained for months on end.
This year, as if to make up for it, we’ve had a constant heatwave and disgusting humidity for weeks now. I can’t remember the last time I walked outside and didn’t break out in a sweat after three seconds. Even at night, it’s muggier than hell’s sauna.
Now, I’m from the Deep South, so that’s not anything I’m not used to. But combine the Southern summers with the Canadian winters and we have ourselves a problem. We have ourselves a city built in what I can only describe as the world’s climatological anus.
So, do all 8 million of us a favor and move somewhere else and found Chicago there. Somewhere with a seasonal calendar doesn’t look like this:
Winter: October 3 – May 28
Spring: May 29 – June 25
Summer: June 25 – September 7
Autumn: September 8, 9:30 am – 12:17 pm
Winter Jr.: September 8, 12:18 pm – October 2
I really love this city. I want to live here. But only if here is somewhere else. Frigid winters? Fine! Stifling summers? Fine! Just not both.
Maybe somewhere with mountains. Hey, you like lakes, right? I’ll give you a hint, there’s a really lovely one called Tahoe way out west. Why don’t you check that one out and found Chicago there? That’d be nice. Or your home region, the Caribbean! It’s beautiful.
Anyway, think it over and hopefully, when I wake up tomorrow morning, you’ll have changed history and I’ll find myself in the City of Chicago, in the Great State of Aruba.
I’d appreciate it.