Big City AF

This week marks my fourth anniversary in Chicago. Where has the time gone? Seems like just yesterday I was having a meltdown on I-80 as I spent a grueling eight hours wondering what I am doing and how I am going to survive in Chicago. And cursing the cop that gave me a ticket as soon as I crossed the Illinois state line.

Yep, four years ago I was saying goodbye for what I thought would only be a couple of months. I packed up all my belongings, said goodbyes, and cried literally the entire way to Chicago while my brother-in-law begrudgingly went through the motions of moving my things, strapped inside an 8x10 trailer, to the "big city".

I’m not sure anyone thought I was going to actually go through with this. I’m not sure I even believed it.

November 7, 2012 was my last day of work at my seemingly comfortable job that I enjoyed and found a lot of pleasure in educating the community on health and wellness. Days before that I celebrated my one year anniversary with my then boyfriend. That same week I had a lovely going away party with a few of my closest friends at my favorite Omaha wine bar. Basically, my life was good, I was comfortable, and I was content. Still, something was pulling me to give Chicago a try. I had wanted to move to Chicago since the first time I visited a little over a year earlier, and that nagging feeling never went away.

Needless to say, my first night, or even weekend, in Chicago wasn’t the idealistic image I had in my head.

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Upon arriving to Chicago during rush hour on a Friday – in the fall, where daylight ends at 3PM – to an uncleaned, old apartment that I was less than pleased with to say the least, was definitely not how I envisioned my arrival to Chicago.

Upon stepping into the dirty, creaky, empty apartment, I was devastated. I told my brother-in-law I wanted to go home, this was a bad idea, I don’t want to do this. He agreed, and he turned around and drove the trailer filled with my stuff back to Omaha right that second. I was drained and not emotionally ready to make that drive, so I said I was going to stay the weekend, and drive back to Omaha on Monday – seeing as I didn’t have a job or anything I had to report to that next week. That night Hudson and I slept on the hardwood floor with two blankets and a throw pillow, and I’m pretty sure I cried the entire night thinking that I just made the worst decision of my life.

Then, something happened that weekend. Though I wasn’t comfortable by any means, I knew I had made it that far for a reason. I decided not to move back to Omaha just yet, I wanted to ride out the next few months and enjoy the experience I had committed to upon quitting my Omaha job, and moving 500 miles away.

The next few months were even more grueling and draining. I couldn’t find a full-time job for months. I took random temp jobs, and worked at a Wrigley bar for a second. I recall spending that first Chicago winter in bed for hours while I searched for jobs, took phone interviews, and streamed Netflix. I binge-watched six seasons of Mad Men in less than a month.

In May I finally got hired with Modern Luxury and for the first time in over six months, I received a real paycheck. That summer and fall changed my life monumentally – joining 3run2, meeting my best friends and forming relationships, acquiring new goals and a new lifestyle, and finally being able to appreciate the city and experience all it has to offer.

It’s funny, you live every day thinking nothing changes, but you look back and everything has changed.

Over the last four years, I have met my best friends, ran five marathons, countless half marathons, traveled to new places, left the U.S., converted to Methodism, gained and lost friends, laughed more than I could ever imagine, cried, became vegan, met people who are just as goldendoodle-obsessed as I am, learned how to knit, opened an Etsy shop (or two), became a blogger (can I call myself that yet?), did a juice cleanse (twice, and I still hate it), attended a few sporting events, rode a Nike bus to Toronto, got kicked out of a restaurant on my 29th birthday, attended countless concerts/shows/comedy shows, survived the Chicago Polar Vortex of 2014 and 2015, watched eagerly as the Cubs won the World Series (more on this soon), learned how to take care of myself and what I need to be truly happy, went through extreme ups and downs, survived, grew as person/friend/partner, and above all else, loved and learned the meaning of true love.

These past four years weren’t always easy, and there were times I questioned absolutely everything. Though, at the end of the day, they were my 20’s. They shaped me. I made mistakes, I learned from them, I grew, I was challenged, and I came out happier than ever. Sometimes the universe just forces you to do things, and you don’t know why or how it will possibly work out, but it just does. And those decisions become some of the best decisions of your life.

As I reflect on these last four years, I often don’t think of the first six months – for a while I chose to block those out – but in reality, they are so essential to who I am today. I’m truly grateful for everyone whose path has crossed mine over the last four years. You shaped me in more ways than you’ll ever know. I wouldn’t be who I am today without all the hardships and happiness I’ve had over the years. Cheers, Chicago!