I have lived in Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; Seattle, WA; and Chicago, IL. I’ve been living in Chicago now for seven years. A couple of years ago, I fell in love. I fell in love with a physicist who was in the middle of a three-year research contract at Northwestern. I fell in love with an academic who didn’t know where in the world his next job would be. I fell so in love with him, that I knew I’d move with him, whenever he got his next job. You guys, you know it’s true love when you’re willing to move to the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia for somebody. The outer suburbs. Like, really far.
Since we met in Chicago, we wanted to get married here. And that’s exactly what we’re doing 4 days from now. And in 7 days from now, we’re leaving Chicago, for northern Georgia.
(Side note, some advice… If you’re getting married, do not schedule an out-of-state move three days after. If you’re moving, don’t schedule your wedding three days before.)
Now obviously, I’m gonna miss the dear friends I’ve met here and the amazingly talented colleagues I’ve gotten to work with. I’ll miss teaching at Second City and Lifeline Theatre. But there are subtler things I will miss. And I’d like to share some of ‘em with you now:
the smell of chocolate when I’m running errands downtown
the occasional Polish conversation floating through the air at the coffee shop down my street
whizzing down Lake Shore Drive on a beautiful day
wandering around the Chicago Cultural Center
catching the view of the city from the brown line train
eating Mexican food for breakfast, Ethiopian food for lunch, and Indian food for dinner
that sense of accomplishment and feeling of toughness that you get on the first warm day when winter is officially over—really feeling like you’ve “earned” summer when it finally gets here
fireworks over Lake Michigan
taking tourists out for expensive drinks and grand views at the Hancock Tower
paper copies of the Onion
going to the main library downtown and checking out one of the fiction books recommended by their librarians
thinking, “I’ve got a new piece I wanna perform,” then emailing/calling someone and having a performance slot that weekend
The Chicago Diner
exploring another neighborhood and feeling like I’m in another country
listening to fabulous late-night jazz sets at the Green Mill
exposed brick in friend’s apartments or restaurants or salons or, well, exposed brick anywhere
the camaraderie one experiences with fellow commuters under the heat lamps at the train stations in January
free concerts in the summer at Millenium Park
the sound of snow blowers coaxing you awake for the first snowfall of the winter
neighborhood street festivals
hopping off the train at Argyle and getting bubble tea
walking through parts of the city and all of a sudden the truth hitting me: “Whoa, I live in Chicago. That’s pretty cool.”
There are always two sides of every coin. And I can’t comment on the glass being half empty, without also acknowledging that it is, of course, half full. There are some things about my upcoming move to Georgia that bring me joy.
I’ll be near mountains again. And not just any mountains. I’ll be near the beginning (or the end, depending on which direction you’re headed) of the Appalachian Trail. When the sun sets in the sky, there is a beautiful artwork of purple and blue zig-zag shapes—a gentle reminder that you and your problems are not so big. Not so big at all.
sweet tea, biscuits, and grits: all made the right way
not fearing winter: complete confidence that my eyeball liquid will not freeze while it is in my eyeballs
Trees. People describe Chicago as a green city, which is true, if you’re comparing it to New York. But oh, man. There are trees in Georgia! So many trees!
The probability of getting puked on over St. Patrick’s Day weekend will be so much lower.
seeing stars at night
clean air—no, really clean air. You forget what clean air is like when you live in a big city. The air in Georgia smells like oxygen with a hint of magnolias.
I think I’m ready to live in the suburbs. I don’t want to live in another city right now. I’ve lived in Chicago. And there aren’t a lot of cities that can top Chicago. Atlanta can’t out-city Chi-town. So, I’m gonna go in the other direction. I’m gonna enjoy all of things you can’t get when you’re in a big city. Plus, I’ll be experiencing all of it with someone I am super in love with. There isn’t a whole lot that could get me to leave Chicago. But love? Yeah, I’ll leave Chicago for love. And besides, I can always say, “I lived in Chicago.” That’s pretty cool.