I’ve made no secret of my loss of love with Chicago. Chicago has been home for me and my wife for 5 years now. When we moved here, I was a wide-eyed 20 something, fresh out of college and ready for a new adventure with a girl I loved. It was going to be scary, but I was happy to have someone hold my hand while jumping off a cliff. We came here with two paltry savings accounts and made it happen. It was pretty great for a while.
But as most people who live in a major metropolitan area can tell you, city life is a bear. It’s very taxing mentally, physically, and emotionally.
I think Chicagoans are nicer than New Yorkers in my limited experience, however, I’ve recently been espousing that Chicagoans exist in these little moveable bubbles that surround them in a one foot radius in all directions. “It’s totally fine for me to motor down the street staring at my phone. I’m the only one here.” “I didn’t push anyone out of the way to get the last seat on the train, it’s just me here.” “Of course I can play music from the speakers of my phone on the Red line at rush hour, it’s just me here and earphones hurt my inner ear.” That's probably people in every major city, but I can only speak to Chicago.
No one likes to grocery shop. Actually, I really used to love grocery shopping. But the idea of carrying the groceries that I just way over paid for 4 blocks in the snow really snuffs out the luster of walking up and down the aisles planning a delicious meal. It becomes the worst torture…and you have to do it all the time.
Don't even get me started on relying on public transportation. It's a really great thing that every single city should invest in, but I can't live that lifestyle anymore.
But these are the trades you make to have some of the best restaurants in the world, some of the coolest and most interesting theatre and comedy, and never having a lack of something to do. It’s all great too. Don’t get me wrong. There just comes a time where you don’t want to make those trades anymore. You don’t even go to most of the fun things this place has to offer because regular life has sapped all your energy.
Over the years, I grew weary. By year three, shortly after getting engaged, I was just done with it. It was starting to click that our primary activities out of work, which was going to dinner and a movie, could be done anywhere. Why were we living this stressful lifestyle when we could have the same life minus many stressors, many expenses, and with the addition of a great network of family and some of the closest friends people could ask for.
Basically, I still love Chicago, but I hate living here. I really can’t wait to visit.
There’s a host of things I’ll miss and in the interest of keeping this post from being all shitting on the place that I’ve called home for almost 6 years, I’d like to talk about some of them.
I’ll miss the friends I've made. They may be few, but they are definitely some of the finest and most fun people I've met. I wouldn't trade them for anything.
I’ll miss Chalk the Block. I didn’t even think about it until walking to work this morning, but there’s this great group of people (I don’t even know who they are) who write inspiring messages on the sidewalk leading up to train stations. They pop up at my stop every few weeks and they really do perk me up on the way to work.
I’ll miss the Lakefront on my wife’s behalf. I didn’t spend nearly as much time there as she does, but it was nice in the summer to know that we could walk 10 minutes to the beach. I know she'll miss it too and I hope that running on Belle Isle from time to time will act as a suitable replacement.
I’ll miss baseball at Wrigley Field. Cubs fans, as a species, are the vilest of people. But enjoying the one sport I actively enjoy within the walls of such a historical place is always cool. It can't beat Tigers games though. To quote Marcellus Wallace, "Not by a damn sight."
I didn’t take advantage of the theatre scene as much as I could, but I’ll still miss knowing it’s there. I’ll miss knowing I could go to Second City if I took out a small loan for tickets. I’ll miss knowing that I could go see some great comedy. I’ll miss knowing for sure that comedians will come to town if they are out on tour.
I’ll miss Tedino’s pizza. I’ll miss El Mariachi. I’ll miss Do-Rite Donuts and Dinkle’s Bakery. I’ll just miss eating.
In closing, I want to thank Chicago for the 5 years. I’ve become who I am. My wife and I took our baby relationship and grew it into a marriage here. I couldn’t have done it all without Chicago. But it’s time for a new version of the life I left and the life I loved. Life 2.0. An improved life, where I get to share the new things I've learned with other people. A life where my wife and I can really explore our passions. It’s time to get involved with the community that I was too scared to embrace 5 years ago. It’s time to move where I’ll matter. It’s time to contribute. I’ll never regret moving to Chicago. It gave me the tools I needed to make this leap. And I’ll always be grateful for the wife who will be holding my hand when we jump and the friends and family who will extend their arms to catch us. You can’t find that stuff just anywhere.