It seems funny "going home". Since I left Cleveland so many other places have become home to me. Although Ohio is so instinctively familiar it has always had a feeling of "home" no matter how long it has been.
I remember packing up nearly 10 years ago, my father and I getting on a plane for California. Having never crossed the Mississippi before and doing it for the first time with the idea of living there - indefinitely. Most certainly my most ballsy move to date, and one that changed my life forever.
San Francisco has a very special and dear place in my heart. I met some of my closest friends, had some of my first "big girl" job opportunities, and met Brad.
Usually at the point in the story where boy meets girl the author typically ends with "and the rest is history". Although true, so much more has happened since we decided to leave our beloved apartment on Hyde Street in SF to start our lives over in Chicago. We got a dog, bought our first condo and had the most wonderful miracle come into our lives:
With all this being said and Chicago quickly becoming yet another dot on my map, I feel it's only appropriate to pay this city tribute as I did (over and over and over) with SF.
Chicago, come on, let's be honest, you and I never really "clicked", did we? I remember several moments in my life in which I had an "aha" moment where I was and what I was doing. One being sitting on Stuart Hill at the University of Dayton with Schmott, Mag, Mar and Sarah and watching my friends "roll" or try to roll down the hill. I felt struck with this feeling of "yes, yes, this is it - this is exactly what you should be doing and where you should be at this moment in your life." Another came to me when smoking (oh Parliaments, my lost friend!) on my fire escape in the Tenderloin, my best friend/ neighbor/ partner-in-crime, smoking besides me. Looking down at the dingy streets of our neighborhood and once again it struck me "Here. . . .the moment. . . now, everything is right". All the pieces were in the right places and I knew instinctively I was doing exactly what I should be doing (even if it involved cigarettes - that too had its place in time).
But Chicago, no, we never had that moment. But that's not to say it didn't exist. With you, my life was altered more than with any other move. You gave me purpose when I brought Stetson into this world, but it also never gave me the time to fully take you in. Yes, I got my runs on the lake, and don't get me wrong, I fully enjoyed the public transportation. But the flash of realization of knowing I was doing exactly what I should be doing never struck me, but part of me believes that could be due to lack of sleep and having to trust other instincts that weren't exactly "aha" moments. Knowing the right moments to comfort my child vs. letting him comfort himself. Learning how to be a good mother AND a good wife, while still remaining good to myself. Man, that was a learning curve that took awhile to get around. But I did learn. I took on every battle brought to me while in Illinois and now LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what has been given to me.
That being said, I think it's time to thank you Chicago:
Thank you for my runs. Every. Single. One. From the earlier ones through the city getting to know downtown. To the long runs along the lake. To the teetering ones through Old Town with a big belly guiding my way. I discovered the city in my runs, I ran with new friends who quickly became old friends. I tried to run with my dog, then I stopped running with him :)
Thank you for my job. I never thought I would find such joy in a part-time job, but I did. Did I like waking up at 4am? No, not really. But I loved the people I worked with. I loved the opportunity to be able to work on something other than my home or my family for a few hours. I loved that this job gave me the full-time status to be with Stetson, but the part-time status to fill the other voids in my life I was so used to filling (getting a paycheck, having coworkers, having a place need me). Standing (ok, sitting now) behind that front desk, shooting the shit with my coworkers and getting to know all the members was just what I needed in my life filled with diapers and Target runs. I'll miss it dearly.
Thank you for my neighborhood. The farmers markets. The quick distance to the L. Yogurt Square. Gene's Rooftop. Street fairs. The ability to walk wherever I wanted to go, the store, the bars, the shops, the gym. If I wanted to keep the car parked for weeks, I did and it was awesome. I will miss walking more than anything when we move. I do hope we find a similar walkability when we find our new home, but I realize this might be asking for too much. A girl can dream, can't she?
Most importantly, thank you for my friends. I have made the greatest friends while in Chicago. In some instances I was able to reconnect with old friends, and in others I was blessed enough to meet people who came into my life and made it so much brighter, and I would not have these people if it weren't for Chicago. I would name each one of you and tell you exactly why I love you, but I fear I might forget someone due to my pregnant dumb dumbs, that I and I am not giving up hope on seeing each of you in the next couple of weeks before I leave.
Oooohhh Chicago, I never grew to like your drivers or traffic. And some of the issues with my tax dollars (parks remaining closed, potholes) I couldn't get used to. But the goodness you brought into my life was so worth it. I leave you a different person- a mom- from how I joined you. You will forever be tattooed on my heart as the birthplace of my son. From now on when people discuss you in front of me, inside I will know I have a deeper connection than anyone could ever imagine. No "aha" moment necessary.
Peace, love and best donuts in the world,