I’m a pretty sentimental person. If there’s a major milestone, I think it needs marking. Well, I’m ashamed to say, I missed my Chicagoversary this year. Three years ago on a warm July day I packed up and moved from my hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas to the big city. As if watching my dad navigate a U-Haul trailer through the streets of Chicago wasn’t enough of an adventure, we then moved everything I owned up the stairs of our three story walk-up. But as I sat in my first apartment in the city, exhausted and sore, I was also overwhelmed with excitement.
There was so much to see, so much to do, so much to explore. This city was mine, my new home, and I couldn’t wait to experience all the beautiful adventures it had for me.
And man, have there been a ton. So today, a little later but with no less gratitude, I want to mark this significant milestone by reflecting on –
The 41 day search for my first job…that felt more like 41 years.
The struggle to stay rooted in my faith and find my church home.
Learning to navigate different friend groups.
Heck, learning to navigate the city! Which, one could argue, was equally tough at times.
Trying to figure out what I want in a relationship.
Recognizing my worth and standing up for what I want in said relationship.
Quitting my first job.
Finding my next.
Owning my identity as a writer and discovering a community with whom I could celebrate my craft.
Summer nights spent on rooftop patios and enjoying more movies in the park than I can count.
So. much. good. food. Like, so much.
Living with roommates. Living alone. Living with roommates again.
Friends coming. Friends going. Friendships evolving and some even growing apart.
Weddings and engagements and celebrating life with loved ones.
Triumphant physical achievements and defeating challenges.
Nights out filled with laughter, drinks and dancing. And nights in filled with heartfelt talks, community and tears.
Writing, processing, reflecting…
And a remarkable amount of growth.
This city, these last three years, have pushed me. Hard. There have been many seasons since I first moved here, some long and others coming to an unexpected end. Some full of fun and ease, spurred on by a carefree spirit. Others incredibly heavy, feeling almost too much to bear, pushing through only by the grace of God.
But I’m thankful for each of these moments. Life in Chicago has been so good. Not easy, please don’t mistake the two. Not easy at all. But good. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Would I change some things? Sure.
I’d write a whole lot more. I’d worry about what people thought of me a whole lot less. I’d venture out into the city more. I’d succumb to the ruts of routine less. I’d give my dreams more breadth to breathe. I’d let fear have less power to paralyze.
But that’s about it. I can honestly say the last three years have been full – with glimpses of fearlessness – and they’ve grown me in ways I didn’t know I needed.
When I first said I wanted to move to Chicago I chalked it up as a calling. I did feel drawn to this city, but I could’ve stayed in Arkansas too. But God has been gracious and has blessed my decision to make the bold move to Chicago.
So with that I say, Happy Anniversary, Chicago. You haven’t always been easy, but you’ve been kind. And I look forward to growing with you over the next year and many, many more.