It’s been nearly four weeks since I moved from Chicago to Ferndale, and nearly a decade since I first left my hometown of metro Detroit for college in Manhattan. Somehow it feels like I’ve been back longer… though I estimate it will be at least another week until we’re completely unpacked. At any rate, a proper tribute is past due.
Six months before I left NYC, if you’d ask me if I’d ever leave the east coast, me ‘n Michelle Tanner would have told you “no way, dude”. Then I moved. And, while it was a little scary (and really the scariest bits are usually money-related. This being post-iPhone, it was nearly impossible to ever feel lost), it didn’t make me sad. As I recall, no tears were shed. That’s not to say I wasn’t going to miss anybody. I still miss my eastern-dwelling friends and that won’t change, but they’re still my friends. Somewhere around sophomore or junior year of college I became pretty zen about the whole moving thing, and that’s good, because I’ve moved once a year every year for nine years, my longest lease lasting 14 months. So much back and forth got me to this mindset: Be happy where you are when you’re there. And know that you can always go back. Of course “always” is a bit of a loose term here. Moving sure ain’t cheap, but IN TIME, you can always go back. Or leave. And that’s a freeing thought.
Three months ago, if you’d asked me if I’d ever move back to Michigan I would have very forcefully told you “HELL NO”. Then I moved. Love makes you do very sensible things sometimes. I won’t sugar-coast it though; it’s a big adjustment moving from a gorgeous lake-side neighborhood full of independent shops and restaurants in one of the country’s most happening cities, where everything I wanted was within walking distance, to a much grayer, strip-mall heavy, motor driven city (I have to get a driver’s license. As someone who has been RUN OVER by someone who, oops, “MIXED UP THE GAS AND THE BRAKE”, the thought kind of terrifies me.) where the signs of struggle exist in far too many vacant buildings. But there are a lot of positives.
Most of my family is here, for one (Happy Birthday, Jessica, BTW!). My best friend lives in the same city as me, for two. Good food costs a lot less, and, for the first time in years, I won’t have to battle a retail schedule to get home for any major holidays. Or minor ones, for that matter. As a bonus, this wedding planning business sure is a lot easier when you’re in the same state as the event location, your wedding party, and one’s mother. Ben’s happier and Emilio’s definitely happier (our tiny Chicago apartment made him a loaf, even amongst cats, without open space or hallways to run around). We can MOVE in our apartment. We can have more than one guest over without suffocating. What a luxury! I do think a lot of the “Detroit lives”, Johnny Knoxville narrated see-how-cool-Detroit-secretly-is attitude is optimistic, but I also appreciate the can-do spirit and pride the creative community here possesses, and I’m excited to become a part of it. And when we drove that U-Haul into Detroit, around 2 am and I looked up and MISTOOK THE STARS FOR PLANES BECAUSE I HAD NOT SEEN THEM IN SO LONG… that counts for something too.
But I’ll always love you, Chicago.
View of downtown Chicago from Belmont Harbor, near our old apartment
Our street and apartment building on West Barry in Lakeview
Luggage crate from the Swedish-American Museum of Immigration in Andersonville
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, as I know it.
Chicago being irresistable
Along Lake Michigan, near our apartment
Venturting out into the 2011 blizzard along Broadway and Ben aboard the El on New Year’s Eve
The Nettlehorst School playground prepares for Pride. The most charming school I’ve ever seen outside of a story.
One of my favorite shops (in three locations), Two Sided & Four Sided
Ben eating a Mr. Big hot dog from own of our favorite places to chow down for cheap, Flub-a-Dub Chub
Holly & Jennifer in my first Chicago apartment (the gorgeous brick number with the giraffe sculpture outside my bedroom window that was scaled multiple times every night buy drunken bar-hoppers) stringing/eating popcorn a la my vision of The Perfect Christmas
By this point, Ben was already living and working in Michigan, and I was left to pack up all our worldly possessions, plus the cat.
The good folks at the Evanston Barnes & Noble bid me adieu
And we were off! That succulent as well as a bamboo plant, I should note, survived the whole trip from Chicago only to be left inside the boiling hot U-Haul for two hours while we cleaned our new apartment. It shriveled up like a prune, but it’s slowly returning to health.
And here we are!
Welcome flowers from Jenny and flowers for our balcony. Our private balcony.