“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”
I read this quote and felt it to my bones.
I’ve written and rewrote these words a ton of times in between laughs and tears. Especially as I look through these photos again. We created a summer bucket list of things we wanted to do for our last Chicago summer and one of them was to get family photos done by the lake with the skyline. Another was to see the sunrise by the lake. We were able to accomplish both with Danielle Dolan, who was the most amazing to work with. She gave us the greatest gift with these photos. It was such a special morning.
The truth is, I don’t think I have the proper words for a proper goodbye to the city that gave me everything. Eleven years ago when I came here I was so lost. I had just gone through a very traumatic event losing a dear friend of mine and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was pretty low, and when my then-boyfriend (now husband) had told me he was moving to Chicago and wanted me to come, I was devastated. I was never the girl to take chances and had zero interest in leaving my comfort bubble, especially during one of the worst times of my life. But there was something pulling me to Chicago. I not only didn’t want to lose my boyfriend, but I also felt that maybe there could be a chance for me to have a fresh new start. Everyone says your 20s are for discovering yourself and taking chances, so what did I have to lose? I ditched my plans on going to law school and the crippling anxiety I held onto of moving away from home and took the jump. And the outcome was so much more than I could have ever imagined.
I went back to school for myself and graduated from the University of Chicago, learning from some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. I got to do some incredibly awesome things through blogging and helped create a blogger network hosting happy hours and events all throughout the city. I started a marketing career working in the Sears Tower, the type of iconic skyscraper I dreamed of working in as a child, and was able to pivot when I started having kids to find the balance between work and motherhood. And when one of my closest friends and I had a dream of starting our own business over too much wine, we bought a website and put ourselves out there. A few years and many weddings later, we’ve had some really great success.
And of course, personally, my life has changed drastically in the most beautiful way since I’ve moved here. Gary and my relationship will always be rooted in Florida, but it sprung the most in Chicago. We’ve had our toughest moments of loss and our most joyous tears here. We’ve shared so many hopes, dreams, and fears in the back of taxi cabs, bars, walks home, and restaurant booths. Our love story is written on so many of these city walls. I am so grateful that we not only got to grow here as individuals but together as a couple.
Most importantly, this city gave me my two greatest joys, Jude and Heath. When I first moved here and would see moms strolling the city sidewalks with their little ones, I pictured what life would be like with kids in the city and if I would ever have that chance. I worried about so many aspects of it – the cost, the space, the daycare. But just like everything else in life, it all works itself out, and I am so glad that we decided to have children in Chicago. I will forever cherish the memories of those hazy newborn days with each boy and our daily walks to the local park. How much Jude loved the sounds of the city cars and Heath’s appreciation for the feeling of Chicago grass. I know they won’t remember these memories, but we plan to make this city a big part of their life because it will always be a big part of our family’s story.
In my heart, I know this move is the right thing. My tears aren’t a good representation of my excitement, but I truly am so happy to be close to my family and friends in Florida. I’ve missed living near them so much. Every goodbye gets harder and harder and we are so ready for this move and for the next chapter. But we are leaving behind a lot here. It’s the only home my children have ever known, and we’ve met incredible people that have become family to us. I have also absolutely fallen in love with this city and I don’t think I’ll ever be fully ready to let go. There will always be a piece of me here left behind.
So here’s my big thank you to the city that I owe everything to. With every street corner, stranger I encountered, new sidewalk, and daily experience, this city helped put together a broken 23-year-old who had no clue the friendships, success, joy, and love that would be in front of her over the next 10+ years. Chicago was my “city of dreams” that so many others seek in cities like Los Angeles and New York. I just had no idea at the time when I moved here.
And if there’s anyone reading this looking for a sign to take a plunge, here it is. Just fucking do it. Move to the random city you know nothing about. Life is too short to stay in your comfort bubble. I can not even imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t take a chance on this city and I can’t believe I ever doubted that it could bring me happiness. If I could go back in time, I’d tell that 23-year-old to just wait. Wait until you see the amazing memories and moments you’re going to experience in this city. Wait until you see the love, and the laughter, and the celebrations that this next decade has in store for you. The lessons this city is going to teach you and the people it’s going to bring in your life. You’re so lucky to call it home.
Home. Chicago, you will always feel like home.