I write my first blog entry with both excitement and sadness. I am leaving my adopted home of Chicago this weekend. This is not the first time leaving Chicago.
The first "big move" was August 2002, when Andy Mead wooed me down to Durham, North Carolina. It was not easy; I cried during the drive down. I was starting over with the only person I knew being the one who talked my into moving in the first place. Somehow I managed, surviving the massive ice storm that December which knocked power out for a week. Made some new friends and got back in touch with a more "conservative" side of myself. I do not regret the experience and in some ways wish that I could have stayed, but perhaps I can talk about why I did not in a future entry. So in June 2003, I returned to Chicago, essentially the same way I got here in the first place in July 1996 - no job, no place of my own to stay, and very little cash to go on. Only this time, the majority of my stuff was here and I did have more friends than before.
I love this city. I wanted to invest in it and help to make things happen. I never had the chance, because the cost of living is higher here than other places I have lived. However, the wages match the rents, so it is truly a wash. I could have stuck with the condominium management job and moved on into construction project management, but the situation I was in was burning me out. I was at the Irish pub down the street and on the way home almost daily, washes down several pints of lager, trying to relieve the tension in my shoulders. When Andy came along, I saw an opportunity to start anew. Oh well. I went down on the food chain of job monetary compensation when I quit and "ran away". Finally, fought my way back up to a nice assistant manager position at Kaehler Travelworks. But I made a stupid mistake one spring night in early May of last year.
A man I had dated when I was attending Oklahoma State University popped back into my life. We met when I was 18. In retrospective irony, the bar was called Chicago's. I was a bit intoxicated and attempting to play basketball on a damp wooden deck in high heels. At one point I fell flat on my ass. Needless to say, it was a funny sight. Paul was the bartender and bar manager. We hit it right off. I "went home" with my date, but then returned to the bar after he dropped me off. I wanted to talk to Paul some more.
Paul and I saw each other all that summer and when classes started again, we started to drift apart. There was a fear inside both of us that we were getting too serious. Neither of us were anywhere near ready to settle down. We lost track of each other after a while. Through the early 90's, we would make contact from time to time and always, always picked up where we left off - as if we had just seen each other a day or two ago. Very strange rapport that most folks don't have with even their own spouse! So, of course, I couldn't say no when we met again last year.
But of the flames of passion did burn. The chemistry was still there - even after over 8 years of not seeing each other or even conversing via email or phone! Mother nature spoke, a shotgun wedding in September and now I have to move back to Oklahoma to be with my husband, Paul.
Oh, Chicago, how I will truly miss you. If I stayed, chances are high that I would have shown my devotion by throwing my hat in the ring for the next aldermanic race. I would have probably been named Manager at Kaehler - a raise and a few more headaches. I will miss your fine architecture, your public transportation, your wonderful varieties of food and cultures. I will miss the 24-hour aspect of life here. I will miss the friends I made. I will miss the music offerings, the museums, the art house films, the fun of the mudslinging politics. I will miss the Chicago Fire.
Ah, yes, there are a few advantages to Oklahoma. I will be able to see the stars again. In Chicagoland, I would have had to rent a car and drive for at least 1 1/2 hours to get sufficiently into the inky blackness of the countryside to see all the constellations. Either that or go to the Adler Planetarium and experience it in a reproduced manner. I will enjoy the pleasures of car ownership again (well, when Paul finally is able to get me my dowry). ROAD TRIP! Ever notice how when you are somewhere other than Oklahoma, folks are FROM Oklahoma, in that they mean they were born and/or grew up there, but chose to leave it without looking back. That was me. I am FROM Oklahoma. I am a Chicagoan.
Don't worry, Chicago, I will return. As often as I can.