On Leaving Chicago

In less than a week, I'll get on a plane and leave Chicago. As I'm heading out of this hot summer I'm thinking of another summer, three years ago, when Brock and I left Utah, newly married and newly graduated, eager for this new chapter in our lives.

I remember driving for days across the Midwest and feeling the weather become progressively more humid as we left Wyoming and pushed our way into Nebraska. As we crossed the Mississippi River I couldn't stop thinking, "I live east of the Mississippi." I was 22 and it felt like we were at the pioneer stage of our lives, leaving behind the familiar to make new and better lives for ourselves.

And as we're moving on to the next stage, I'm struggling to cope with what it means to be ending this one. I'm leaving this beautiful place where I truly became an adult, where I deepened my relationships with God and my husband, and where I became a mother.

The fact that I'm leaving keeps hitting me in waves. I'll be walking home soaking in the huge trees and beautiful buildings and then I'll tear up knowing that it's almost over. I'll jog down to the lake and feel so happy with its beauty but then my insides twist with sadness because I don't know how many more runs I'll have. I'll feel swamped by the heat and humidity and begin to long for fall but then remember that I'm not going to see another Chicago fall. And my throat swells with the pain of the ending.

How do I sum up three years worth of life-changing experiences?

I can tell you what I've learned. I've learned how to dress for Chicago winters (good boots, huge down coat, super warm socks, and a cozy attitude. Also a hat because wind chill and below-freezing temperatures can literally take your ears off. I warned you).

I learned what urban poverty in America looks like today and had my eyes opened what true diversity means. I've learned how to ignore the screaming of ambulances outside our apartment and begun to slightly copy Chicago accents.

I understood the true sweetness of spring with all its hope and budding blossoms and the sense of renewal, made even sweeter after living through long, dark winters.

I learned how to make adult friendships, how to serve people, and how to mother.

I'm going to miss being able to have memories triggered by things I see. If I don't see the old church whose bathroom I used when I was 4 months pregnant, will I forget about that hot, happy day with Brock at the jazz festival? If I don't see the bench at the Lincoln Park Zoo where I nursed 2 week old James, will I still be able to feel a flood of memories about my first outings with a newborn? Will I begin to forget this time in my life and the versions of myself that have thrived here?

Despite these worries, what I feel most is overwhelming gratitude. Gratitude for these experiences and for this place I both loved and hated. Gratitude to have gone through it all with my husband so that no matter where else we live and what else we go through, I'll always be able to turn to him and say, "Remember when we lived in Chicago?"

And now for a walk down memory lane:

First time at Lincoln Park Zoo. We were such babies

Walks during the polar vortex winter. I can't believe I forced us outside. It was so cold. Although it must have been slightly bearable since I was not wearing a hat
Museum of Science and Industry and Brock's mountain man goatee

Our apartment building

James in his kitchen bedroom

One member of the family loved that our street was the fire truck/ambulance thoroughfare

Our view on our morning walk/runs

Buckingham Fountain. James almost managed to squirm his way through that fence but I didn't get a picture of that

Down coat as mentioned above. I think this was taken on a warm-ish day in March, based on the fact that James isn't wearing his down coat and my scarf is a "lighter" one


  1. Aww I'm glad you loved Chicago! *My home* Looks like we lived in the same area, too. Enjoy your next adventure!


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