Drew tapped my arm and motioned for me to look over to the other side of the plane. I looked out the window and saw how Chicago stretched out under us. Tall buildings and blue water- the city on the beach. We were almost home.
There are reminders that come to us from all different sources. Little things bring me back to this time last March. It was one LONG/SHORT year ago when we decided that Chicago would be our new home.
I vividly remember the conversations that Drew and I had about making this overwhelming decision. We had narrowed it down to a few Michigan options and one in Chicago. We were in bed,on a cold March night, staring at the ceiling when I said it out loud.
“It’s Chicago. My gut says, Chicago.”
I already knew what Drew’s gut was telling him. I knew he’d be happy to hear my final thoughts on the matter.
And then somehow I look up, and VOILA, it’s a year later!
Here we are, residents of Oak Park, Illinois.
Just like I never anticipated I would live in Jackson, Mississippi or Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I never thought Chicago was a place I’d call home.
But I do. And I’m glad.
There has been so much that has happened between that night last year in March and this evening. There was the pain of telling our family and friends. There was starting the hard work of moving. The reality of saying goodbye. There were the new found freedoms of starting over. There was saying goodbye to country life and stepping into the city.
We spent our Superbowl Sunday alone. Our house wasn’t hopping with friends as it has in years past. We stay in more evenings than we go out. There aren’t the friends that know us so deeply, so caring and so well.
But there is also so much good. SO much.
There are school conferences where Drew and I look at one another and think, How did we get so lucky to find this place? There are mornings where Josh can’t wait to get to school. There are more days where he’d rather be at school than at home.
There are slumber parties when I drop my girl off where open arms are waiting for her at the door. And then, as I walk away and down the steps I think about the fact that my child is the only white face in the crowd of her friends. And she’s so happy and so at home there. And it’s just normal life. Her world is continually expanding.
There are walks to school where our crossing guard is always looking out for the family. “I haven’t seen you in a while, Mom!” or “What’s up, Big Dawg?” or “I think I met your middle schooler last week- aren’t you from Pennsylvania?” There was that day looking out for my kid when I couldn’t find him and the guard Ernie told me he already went ahead and crossed the road home. He reminds Will the next day that that WON’T be happening again. You gotta listen to mom.
There are flowers and sushi and a cupcake at my door- birthday lunch from my neighbor.
Drew’s running community.
Abbey and Will’s piano teacher.
Josh’s friends at The Children’s School.
My running partner and confidant, the mom across the street.
The faces on the train.
The library down the road.
This was not an easy decision. And even with the good, there still comes the uncertainty and the regret. Nothing comes without sacrifice and nothing comes without risk. Nothing comes without making plenty of mistakes before figuring out your way.
But we did it and we’re glad.
If you’re here in IL, or if you’re there in PA. Thanks for walking with us.
This day in March, we feel the same as we did last year. Once again, we can’t wait to see what the next year holds.