Tomorrow, after 7 years and a couple days of living in Chicago, we will pack our moving truck and push back to Michigan. I have sort of avoided the actual acceptance of the move—don’t get me wrong, I am really excited and very ready to move back to Michigan, but it doesn’t come without some bittersweet feelings of sadness and reluctance to say goodbye to this city, these friends, this home and this chapter of my life.
7 years ago, Ian and I arrived to Chicago with a Tahoe and a trailer. We had no professional movers and relied on our own sweat and good friends Julie and Andy to get us into our first apartment in Ravenswood Manor. The first few weeks we lived here, we both spent lots of time thinking “Oh no, what have we gotten ourselves into?” Everything was so different, so busy, so hectic and so loud from the bucolic existence we had left behind in Michigan. I started working at Social Justice and realized quite quickly that Chicago schools are very, very different than Michigan schools. I credit Chicago Public Schools to teaching me how to teach, though. I learned classroom management and lesson planning, backwards design and assessment development. I also learned that there are many crazy people working in schools and many amazing students. More on this later when I write my “Why I Left Teaching” post. After a few months of life in Chicago, Ian and I were starting to settle in, yet we continued to consider moving back to Michigan sooner than later—we both planned for a year, maybe two, in the city. Neither of us, I don’t think, ever had any idea we would call this place home for 7 years.
Our time in Chicago has been important. We have met some of our best friends and had some excellent jobs. As I said, I learned to teach and teach well in this city and Ian started a company that brought him great joy and opportunity for several years. We both became better yogis through the awesome studio of Om on the Range. We drank great wine and ate amazing food. We learned where the best resturants in Little Vietnam are and how a clay pot with chicken on a February night is the absolute best thing in the entire world. We ate New Year’s Day brunch on Devon Street and ordered $1 tamales from vendors in Little Village. Through our friends, we encountered fabulous theather and music.
Most importantly, though, this city introduced us to some of our very best friends and some of the best people in the world. We developed inside jokes and had numerous game nights, got snowed in in Snowmageddon and played video games for hours on end. We watched as our friends gave birth and adopted babies, welcoming a whole new dimension into the world. We traveled with these folks and introduced them to the wonder of Michigan and we continue to cross our fingers that one day they’ll all move to the Mitten with us and we can open a great little commune of farmy goodness. Until then, though, Chicago you have been good to us. You have taught us to protect ourselves, to love deeper, to believe in hope and to work tirelessly for things which we believe to be important.
You’ve taught us to let go of pain and embrace the goodness in the world.
Like Carl Sandberg wrote so long ago “Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and course and strong and cunning.” Thanks Chicago, it’s been strong and cunning and alive.