Poof, and in an instant back in 1972 I was on my way to Chicago, by default. After graduating from Brown, my mother learned that I intended to move from Providence to Boston and become a waiter, so she convinced Aaron Siskind, my teacher, that I should be doing something else with my life. After all, I was only twenty-two and what did I know? So, my mother, Selma, in her infinite and loving wisdom, saw to it that I would not put myself adrift. In retrospect, I give her all the credit for that move. Aaron suggested that I consider studying photography at the graduate level at The Institute of Design in Chicago, and he was instrumental in helping me get in, as I applied long after the admission deadline had passed.
Upon greater reflection, I realize that, in so many ways, I am now conflicted about the place I call home. I grew up in Montreal; then I moved to suburban New York, where I attended grades six through twelve; then I lived in Providence for four years; and then on to Chicago, where I settled and stayed. The place I call home is much closer to my heart than to any of the cities I mentioned. Montreal gave me my cold Canadian childhood and countless, resounding memories of the great Montreal Canadian hockey teams. I lived and died with every drop of the puck that lead to another Stanley Cup for our great city. Westbury, Long Island, gave me a dose of reality and had me ponder that life might not always be perfect. I still console myself upon hearing the news of the murders of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., whom we lost during my school years on Long Island. While at Brown, I settled into Providence, but, as quickly as I came, I left. I never set down any deep roots there. While I had some truly wonderful teachers at Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design, when my days of study were up I packed the car and left a few hours after graduation. I have stayed connected to Providence, however, as both my daughters attended school there.
Garrison Keilor on one of his many Saturday night Prairie Home Companion radio shows talked about the notion of place and said that we all come from somewhere. I concur but only to the extent of where my heart takes me. Although I have lived in Chicago since 1972, I stayed here after graduate school because I found work as an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago teaching photography. I may have left the city if not for that opportunity. I stayed on because, soon after that, my heart and love led me to Annie, my wife. Chicago is truly her place, as she was born here and has lived here her entire life. If she whispered to me that it is time to move on, I would grasp her fingers and hold tight and go with her to wherever she takes me.
So, in a sense, I am beating around the proverbial bush. The most important gift Chicago has given me is my companion and our two children, Rickie and Tess. But, along with my family, there is also the inherent nature of this city's ability to enthrall and create a meaningful dialogue in my life, within all that moves and stimulates me. In the end, it is what I bring to the relationship of place that really matters.
Copyright © 2013 Lewis Kostiner. All rights reserved.