Focal points Photography

Guest Post: Reflections – Part 1

Hello dear readers. This week I am out of town on a road trip with the gentlemen of Long Pork for Sketchfest NYC. I will return with a new post on Wednesday 6/16. In my absence my good friend James Vest has submitted two amazing entries for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

In 2005, I moved to Chicago for work. I lived alone in a 175 square-foot apartment in the Gold Coast without air conditioning and walked down Rush Street every morning to get to my job. In the spring, there were little baby roaches and by winter there were older, wiser roaches. I had a fantastic view of the Sears Tower and made up for not having a counter top by preparing all my meals on a wooden board laid on my bed.

In 2007, I reluctantly moved to Lakeview so my girlfriend could afford a parking space. I wasn’t sure what to make of Wrigleyville back then, considering  the only experience leading up to that point was the nostalgia of walking down Clark Street as a fresh-faced 15-year-old on vacation, witnessing for the first time a woman urinate on the sidewalk. Still today, there is an anything-goes spirit on Clark, but it’s one I still embrace as a local. I mean, what else does a neighborhood need? A mall? No thank you.

We moved into a place on Addison the first week of November. I remember spending the first two months mostly indoors, eventually braving the frigid tunnel under Lake Shore Drive so my girlfriend could take my picture holding up one ice-blue finger to commemorate our first walk to the lake front. I know for a fact it was New Year’s Day. To prove our shut-in nature, the previous image on the camera roll was of a half-eaten Lou Malnati’s deep dish next to a half-empty bottle of champagne.

The following spring came and though I can’t recall the first walk that we went on, afterwards I must have made a pledge to be outside as often as possible. Over that summer, Lakeview changed me. I bought some running shoes and ran along the trails until they ended, and then deep footsteps through sand and back again, across the tops of stoney walls.

Everything had to be explored. As a couple, we walked in every direction from home; down Broadway, over to Halsted, across Clark and up  Southport. We walked mostly in search of the three universal truths: breakfast, lunch and dinner. And though my food expenses take the form of Pacman on, I am proud of being able to recommend almost any kind of food in a two mile radius with enthusiastic pride.

Yet it was the walks themselves that are held close in my memories. It’s always the first thing I think about doing when I am too tired to be entertained and too bothered by work to stay inside. Lakeview has been a womb I have expanded within, a home where I have grown, in relative peace. So it was quite a shock when I found out that I might be leaving soon.

James Vest is a writer and video editor living in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. To see more from his life, visit his website,