Chicago: Five Years and Counting
Nowish marks our five-year anniversary of living in Chicago. I don’t remember the exact date that we moved in, just that it was the end of June 2009, and shortly after we arrived and dumped the few belongings we had with us, we promptly boarded flights to San Diego for a wedding over July 4th weekend (happy 5-year anniversary to Ryan and Maria!). Do you know what made me even realize that it’s been five years? All of the hype about the five-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. I vividly remember hearing of his passing when KP and I were sitting in our empty apartment in South Boston, waiting for a friend to come over so we could go out for a farewell dinner and drinks. The death of Michael Jackson will forever make me think of our move from Boston to Chicago.
For me, living someplace for five years is a lifetime. Ever since I graduated college, I’ve lived a few years here and there. The only other place I’ve lived remotely as long as I’ve lived in Chicago was Boston for three years (excluding seven months in London), and if you count my years in New England in total, then it was four years. But five years in Chicago feels like a milestone.
Our decision to move to Chicago was an easy one. I’ll briefly rewind to how we got here, which takes us back to early 2009. My stint in London was over and I had just returned (begrudgingly) to Boston. KP and I had just started dating. I knew–despite this new relationship–that I didn’t want to live in Boston anymore, and luckily, he wasn’t too set on it, either. We didn’t have a specific place to move in mind, so we came up with a few options. If memory serves, our short list included Chicago, Washington D.C. and Austin. We agreed that wherever one of us landed a job first would be where we moved. I got a job here in early May, and KP got one shortly thereafter. And that was it. We packed up our lives and headed to Chicago.
You know how they say traveling with your boyfriend/girlfriend for the first time can make or break your relationship? Well, moving halfway across the country is like that times 1,000. KP and I hadn’t even been dating six months when we moved from Boston to Chicago (calm down, we were friends for about two years prior to becoming an item). Admittedly, the move was probably much more trying on him than it was for me, in terms of our relationship. I’m not, how do you say… the calmest, most patient person in the world… I haven’t asked (I don’t need to), but I bet he had plenty of moments thinking, who is this head case I moved here with? Yeah, there were a few little bumps along the way in the move, but here we are. (And, in case our move wasn’t enough of a test for our budding relationship, we traveled to Europe just two months later…)
I’ve always found it somewhat difficult to find my footing in a new city, but not in Chicago. I think that’s mostly because KP and I did it together. With a partner, it was easier to venture out and check out the scene, not that we’re “scene” people. Venturing out mostly meant trying new restaurants, and where better to do that than Chicago? Nearly everything about our move to Chicago seemed easy — well, after the schmucks who delivered our furniture left — and we settled in quickly. There were definitely things that we didn’t love right off the bat — the traffic, the sketchiness of our neighborhood — but as big cities go, Chicago had a lot going for it.
KP and I have built a life here. In the five years that we’ve lived in Chicago, we started new jobs, quit jobs, found new jobs, got engaged, got married, adopted a dog, lived in two different neighborhoods, bought a townhouse, welcomed a daughter, staycationed, survived the winters, shook hands with the mayor, got pesky red light tickets, hosted lots of visitors and ate out way too much. We have our favorites — favorite deep dish, favorite Thai delivery, favorite gym, favorite kennel for Daisy, favorite dry cleaner, favorite frozen custard, favorite neighborhood restaurant and so on. And being able to get from point A to point B in this city in my car without needing GPS just makes me feel home. I know this place. And I’m comfortable here.
We used to somewhat frequently discuss where we’re going next. Because, inevitably, there would be a “next.” But now that we’ve started a family here, have some wonderful friends and simply feel grounded, it’s not such a sure bet. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t. But for now, we’re perfectly happy in sweet home Chicago.