After all my ponderings and working out how I felt about possibly relocating, going back over a YEAR ago (what a difference a year makes), I'm finally really moving. And it's not at all how I planned. The path I'm taking is not at all what I had in mind, not at all what I wanted, not at all where I thought I was going and I am struggling to make peace with it. I will not lie to you. I am absolutely brokenhearted to leave Chicagoland.
This is my home. This is where I was born and raised, and this is the climate I am accustomed to, and this is the traffic that I know, and these are the streets that I am familiar with. These are the surroundings that have borne witness to everything I have been, everything I am and everything I am becoming. Chicago has seen me through divorces, marriages and the birth of my beloved son. This is the city in which my mother and father met, courted, married and raised a family. This soil is where I am from. My roots here run deep.
This is the place where I met my Savior, and this is the place where I learned and grew. This is the place where I met my husband - the man who would try, and sometimes fail, but mostly try to make all my dreams come true. This is where we met and adopted our dogs, our sweet practice babies, and this is where I met nearly all the friends I have in life.
And now I'm leaving. And it's not by choice. That aforementioned husband landed a really great job across the country at a critical point in our tour of duty through Unemploymentland - right as our savings were nearly depleted, and just as his unemployment benefits ran out. We were in a position in which we couldn't say no. So for the past two months, he has been there working at his new job and searching for our next home while I have been here halfheartedly packing and waiting to see what he would find. Well, he found it. It really is a lovely place, well-maintained, with a big backyard for the dogs and a basement for our son's playroom, and plenty of sunny, window-filled rooms for us to fill with light and life. By all accounts, it is a great home and one I could be happy in. There's only one problem - it's not MY home. My home is here, cozy among my things. I am comfortable here, esconced in a lifetime of mementos and treasures that clutter my bookcases, drawers and shelves. I'm supposed to make my home "there" but right now it doesn't feel like "there" will ever be home. Because "there" will never be "here" and I have yet to discover how to reconcile that in my mind. I am leaving the place that created me for a place that is largely unknown. I've never been been to where I'm moving to, and I've only seen the house I'll be living in through pictures online. If a picture is worth a thousand words, why do these particular pictures leave me wondering so much?
Will I be happy there?
Will I make new friends?
Will there be other children on our street for my son to play with?
How far away is the grocery store?
Where is the library?
Can I ever find a church there that I love as much as I love our church here?
Can I ever find friends that I will love as much as the friends I have now?
I don't know. I don't know the answers to these, and a million other questions and fears that keep me up at night and paralyze me into distracted inactivity during the day. But I have to get over it and put all those emotions on the shelf (it probably would be better to pack them in a box, since I have to empty the shelves in my home) and soldier on.
Well, if there is one thing I know anything about, it's soldiering on. Because in Chicago, where I'm from, my home, that's what we do. It can snow 8" in one night and we still get out there in the morning, brush our cars off, and go about our day as if it were nothing. We can find out that our governor sells more seats than the AMC theater did on opening night of New Moon, and we just shake that dirt off our shoulders and go on. We face a windchill factor of -20 and we just bundle up and move on. We cheer for a football team and baseball teams who have a legacy of choking. Well, not me personally but, Chicagoans in general. That's just how we roll here.
So I guess that's how I'm gonna roll there.
But before I go, Chicago, please allow me to bid you a fond farewell. You with your CTA buses and trains, the Metra and the El, your horrific congestion on the Edens, the Kennedy, the Eisenhower, and all the other tollways named after Presidents. Goodbye to your historic, hallowed architecture that has always dazzled me. Goodbye to your gorgeous skyline that never fails to take my breath away. Goodbye to my beloved friends, my amazing family, my precious church that I will miss with all my heart every. single. day. Goodbye to your museums, stadiums, parks and malls that have been my home for 35 wonderful years. Goodbye to delicious deep dish pizza and drippy dipped Italian beefs and delectable beef hot dogs on poppy seed buns with pickles and mustard and onions and tomatoes and nuclear green relish and celery salt and sometimes sport peppers but never ketchup.
Goodbye, Home. I'm sorry I didn't appreciate you more when I was here. I will miss you terribly when I am gone, and will long for you deeply when I go away. You made me who I am, and you taught me so much. I mourn the loss of my childhood home. But you taught me how to be one tough little cookie, Chicago...and so for you, to honor you, and everything you have done for and meant to me, I'm going to try to be tough.
Right after I finish crying.