8 years ago
5 Years in Chicago
Tomorrow marks 5 years in Chicago. That’s half a decade. The first few months after my move from Los Angeles, I’d wake up every morning, look at Buddy, and then out the window, and was sort of in awe/shock that I lived here. I’d have these random “I can’t believe I live in Chicago” moments all the time. It felt like the right move but I just couldn’t believe I did it. Grew up in LA, went to college in Santa Barbara, and now…Chicago. Those moments of uncertainty are mostly in the past except for when it’s snowing and -10 degrees.
5 Years in Chicago
For those of you who don’t know my story, here it is again because it’s been I’m feeling all kinds of nostalgic right now.
I was stuck
I was 27, living at my mom’s house, working as a (self-employed) graphic designer, and found myself in a relationship with a not-so-great guy. He just wasn’t nice but I really embraced that whole “young and stupid” thing and stayed with him. Turns out I loved the idea of him and looking back, have no idea how I dated him for more than a week. Live and learn, right? I didn’t like LA at all–still don’t–and couldn’t afford an apartment and a car in that city. I felt stuck and needed a change, and came up with this pipe dream of moving to a new city.
So I booked a big trip
So the girl who hadn’t flown since 9-11 booked a trip to visit some blog friends in Texas, Tennessee, and Indiana. Completely comfortable flying now, by the way. I loved Nashville and was sure I wanted to move there. I knew a handful of people, rent is pretty affordable, and that city is home to the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Then we drove from Indiana to Chicago. I was excited to visit but went into it saying I could “never” live there. I also didn’t know anyone. But on day 2, we got off the brown line on Armitage and I had one of those “aha moments”. That was it. I was moving to Chicago.
I decided to do a test run in my new city
A few months later, on Feb 1, 2010, I packed a suitcase and rented a place for a month to make sure I could handle the cold, because where I’m from, 50 is a very cold day and 20 sounds like some sort of apocalypse. I reached out to the one Chicago blogger I had heard of at the time and asked her for recs on things to do. She suggested we get dinner. Yes! A friend. She invited me to an event where I met a few really nice girls (still friends with one today), and I looked at apartments with a realtor (became friends with her, too) who invited me to stay with her a few months later when I came back to look at apartments. I flew in the night the Hawks won the Stanley cup. There were fireworks everywhere, and while I don’t do the whole “sign” thing, it felt very serendipitous. I should mention that I’m a sucker for fireworks. They’re magic.
And spent months planning for a real move
It took a lot for me to get the courage to make this move happen, but on August 1, 2010, I did it. Buddy and I left everything we knew behind and started over in Chicago. This might sound strange, but as cliche as it sounds, it felt like this is when my life (as I know it) began. The past five years have definitely been the best to date. I figured myself out. And you guys, I didn’t see it coming. That is not to say these years have been easy. I’ve gone through my share of struggles. Health issues, my dog almost dying, dealt with some anxiety, and most recently, my great aunt forgetting who I am. But still, through all that, life has been good, and there has always been a silver lining. Always.
I’ve done a lot since
I launched a website and traveled to Europe. I’ve lived in River North, Lincoln Park/Lakeview (I was right on the border) and West Town, which is, without question, my favorite neighborhood so far. I made some really incredible friends. Five years ago, I sort of knew a handful of people. Acquaintances I was slowly becoming friends with. But no history. No memories. My city and life were sort of a blank canvas, and there was something very exciting about that.
Everything has changed
I know there’s still a lot that can and will change in the years to come, but everything has changed. Five years later, I have friends who feel like family. People I talk to every day. I have the BEST friends–they are what has made this city home. And then there’s that boyfriend of mine. He’s pretty great, too, but I’ll stop there because I think this might be getting a little sappy, so let’s look back on my previous anniversary posts.
I’m so sentimental.
Happy 5 years, Chicago. Hoping the next 5 don’t go by so quickly, but I plan on enjoying each and every moment in case they do. Even the cold ones.