I've lived in Chicago for nine years. It's been a hell of a ride, but I've decided it's time to move back to the Northeast. When I took a vacation there last month I didn't feel compelled to return, but after I got back to Chicago, as the days went by the sinking dread I felt each morning as I woke got worse, and I began to feel trapped.
I realized that what I was feeling was the realization that none of us lives forever, and that one day I and everyone I know will be gone. And the corollary to that is: enjoy them while you can.
My uncle offered to let me and my animals stay with him while I get on my feet. He lives alone in a four-bedroom house in my hometown. I used to live in this house, during an unhappy adolescence, but my uncle is the resident now and of all my family members he is the least likely to try to comment on my life or get in my face.
It will be a big adjustment, and there are many, many things here in Chicago that I'll miss. But it will be great to re-connect with old friends, and I've re-connected on Facebook with folks I'd love to see more often. It will also be nice to live in a house for the first time in my adult life. To have a quiet yard. To have space for my animals to run about and for me to paint. I will be more challenged to keep busy, but I've already located a pottery class in a building I once took painting classes as a teen, and my cousin in a town close by also expressed an interest.
Once I'd decided to make the move, my anxiety went away and I no longer woke up in dread. There are logistics: I have to rent out my condo, and buy an inexpensive used car. I've gotten a quote on movers and a lead on a property manager. I have to sell what furniture I don't want to take with me, and save enough for a buffer while I look for work once I'm moved. I estimate it will all take 5-6 months, unless I find other options.
It makes going to work much easier: I know I'm working on an exit strategy.
The move is on my mind a lot as I go to my regular shops and haunts. It's a kind of bittersweet taking stock, but in my gut I know I'm making the right choice. I haven't told many people here, as the time isnt' right, particularly with my work on the condo board.
I was on a hike last week with a group, and was talking with a woman who was originally from western North Carolina. She was returning there for her husband's job. She also shared that she'd found it hard to find friends here, that she missed mountains, and that Chicago is where "all the Bg Ten people come to talk to each other." I was amazed at how similar to mine her impression was. Chicago is a fine, beautiful city, but it's time to go back to my roots.
Mountains! The ocean! What a beautiful thought.