*I had planned to post this on my last day in Chicago (Friday), but failed to remember that my internet was being disconnected and computer packed up. Who's the smart girl now?
Sitting down to write one more blog post in Chicago is an overwhelmingly daunting task. I mean, how do you sum-up the ten most formative years of your life? To reflect on my time in Chicago is to reflect on becoming an adult. I can't say for sure whether I'm a "real" adult or not yet, but I think there's a lot to be said about becoming. And Chicago was the place that inspired me to become.
I moved here as a slightly disgruntled 18-year old who probably just needed to calm down. Too many times judgement and anxiety stood in the way of having fun. This city and the wonderful people who live in it truly appreciate the power letting loose. Chicago taught me how to have a blast and make a few bad decisions -- the ultimate prescription to break free of worry. Don't grow up before you have to. Savor the precious years with only small worries and commitments. Laugh at yourself, because you're probably being kind of ridiculous.
PS -- Is there another photo in the world that says "22" more than this one?
It can't all be fun and games -- wah wah adulthood. Chicago made my skin a lot thicker, literally and metaphorically. Working in big agency PR was no cake-walk and I definitely cried in some bathrooms and may have made an intern cry at some point (obviously not on purpose). Put in the time and energy to do good work and you'll build the confidence needed to survive. Oh and you're probably going to screw a few things up along the way. Move on, dwelling on it will only make it worse.
Also, Chicago is freaking cold. Like really freaking cold. There is not a cell in my body that will miss that. I am good with never again waiting for a bus on Lakeshore Drive with wind so cold that I can feel my contact lenses. The city is wonderful and makes up for the winter in so many ways, but it's still damn cold.
I'm not always good at "turning off," never really have been. Whether it was school or my crazy-ass job, I had to teach myself how to step away from it all and not think. This is truly an acquired skill for type-A's. Find a hobby that helps empty your mind -- its cooking for me -- and find a place that can put you in a good mood no matter what. Mine was the lakefront and boy will I miss it, but I know there's a new place to be discovered.
Becoming a Partner
I'll always love a hot dog after 2:00am (no ketchup!) and I'll always melt a bit watching Ferris Bueller. I hope I can always find a way to have fun, even if it's the 12th day straight below zero. I hope I've learned when to be firm and when to mellow out. I will always remember Chicago date nights and I hope we'll always feel like newlyweds out on the town.
Even when we move far away, the places we live become part of our histories and the fabric of what makes us "us." Chicago will always be a part of becoming me. On to the next adventure...