Chicagift

July 20, 2016

A friend of mine once suggested to me that if you live your entire life in the same place where you were born, then you have only read the first page of the book. What a brilliant metaphor, and I agree. I also recognize that others who agree with this statement will be people who probably read books…for fun. Others may simply love the first chapter so much that they are content to read it over and over again, never even contemplating what lay ahead in the other 24 chapters, and good for them. I, however, grew into the opposite prototype, forever looking at maps and marking the places I wanted to visit. I was the one flipping through magazines and ignoring the actual products in the ad, but desperately wanting to experience the locations in which the ads were shot. I blame my parents for my wanderlust, for they raised me with an appetite for the world out of my sight, the adventures that were not yet imagined and the people who were yet to arrive in my life. My mother used to say that I had friends all over the world, but I simply had not yet met them.

In that spirit, my husband and I, who have been married almost 18 years, decided to venture out of our comfort zone for a couple of months to experience living in a brand new place; a place with a different climate thankyouverymuch, a different demographic and a different culture. We wanted to see what it would be like to strike out in a place where we couldn’t play whoseyourmama and wheredyagotohighschool. We wanted to discover a corner of our relationship that had, so far, gone untapped. Like it or not, when you set up shop in a new location, and your daily default mechanisms for living no longer apply, you figure things out in a new way. We wanted to experience this together, with no one watching. Although prior to marriage, I did reside for 10 years in a land far, far away, my husband had not ventured to live more than 50 miles or so from his childhood home. That was for law school, so primarily his head was buried in books, classes and study groups. We pondered where we could go and began to set some criteria for a location.

1.  It had to be a place with a climate that was at least slightly cooler than the one in south Louisiana. Easy. That was pretty much anywhere.
2.  It had to be a metropolitan area, because that is totally different from our home   environment.
3.  It had to have an easy, direct flight from New Orleans.
4.  It had to be a place that we could easily maneuver without a car.
5.  It could’t be a city in which either of us had previously lived. That meant that New York was disqualified. Boo! Hiss!
6.  It had to be a place that had a vibrant cultural scene. Otherwise we would end up reading all day, and that could be done at home.

So, after a bit of discussion and discernment, which was where the adventure really began, we settled on Chicago. Although we had visited that city for a few nights, it was essentially foreign soil to both of us. So we began to plan; to search online for information about different areas of the city and different options for short term apartment rentals. The search alone felt like a journey through a different land. I was loving every minute of the search process, although deep in my heart I never really believed the plan would come to fruition, for I can be futile that way. My husband, however, kept revisiting the plan.

“Have you heard back from the realtor lady?”

“Have you reached out to ____________ yet, because they used to live in Chicago.”

“We need to figure out how to handle our __________, ____________ and _________ while we are gone.”
With each little gentle nudge, my optimism grew, so I moved forward with logistical planning for our Chicago summer adventure. And here we are, late July…in Chicago. I cannot believe it really happened. My husband and I have both discovered new little piece of our selves that had previously been in hibernation. I think we would both agree that we have fallen in love with those new pieces of each other, just as we earlier did with the other pieces. I guess I will find out after he reads this blog post. Anyway, thank you Chicago, for we have both fallen in love with you. You are a new chapter, a new perspective, a new page. What a wonder! What an adventure. What a gift.

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2 Responses to “Chicagift”

  1. Tom said

    Goodness, I wish I was her husband. 🙂

  2. Amy OBrien said

    I love that we were able to visit you in Chicago in your first weeks to show how small the country really is….and thanks for giving me a great idea for my future year plans. We have moved a lot so have some of those chapters…but being intentional about a full immersion where you eventually withdraw…I’d like to try that!!

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