Everyone talks about it. We’re actually doing it.
The cold, the snow, the congestion / traffic / population density, the violence, the cost-of-living, the corruption and psuedo-democracy. Whatever the albatross, most people in Chicago at some point in the course of the year (for some, on a daily basis!), threaten to finally get out of dodge.
In fact, in a recent Gallup 50-state survey, residents in Illinois were more likely to say that they would like to relocate than those of any other state! Half of Illinoisans want to leave! And nearly 20% say that they are likely to move.
Now granted, inertia is a VERY strong force, and a fifth of Illinois residents are not going to leave the state. So most of our friends are surprised that the Grivois-Shah family has beaten inertia and are making the leap across the country to the deserts of Tucson, Arizona.
But regardless of how much I’ve decried living in Chicago, I will miss the city that I called home for the first three and a half decades of my life: born and raised in the western suburbs, college, medical school, and residency all in the heart of the city. I’ve never called another place home.
While I’m looking forward to the warmth, pace, and lower-cost living of Tucson, there are a number of things that make leaving Chicago tough. Below is a short list of 5 things I’ll definitely miss about Chicago.
The big American cities are some of the most diverse places in the world. Folks have come to Chicago from every corner of the planet, and congregrated in a communnial culture that drives Chicago. A Sunday evening at the Scoville Park concert in Oak Park is the height of the diversity. Families of all backgrounds, shapes, and sizes. A place where my husband and I have felt we have NOT really stood out as a biracial, same-gender family. We love just being a family, and not a constant symbol or political statement just by being. We hope we can expose our daughter to friends and families from widely diverse backgrounds in our new home.
2. Blue Bubble
To counter my first point, I am going to miss living in a bubble of progressive political thought and values. It’s very comforting being surrounded by friends, colleagues, and neighbors with the same moral ethicism and secular humanism, folks who respect for our veganism, general agreement in what actually constitutes family and economic values and human rights. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate thoughtful debate, but I’ll miss the fact that I can mouth off and espouse a political point without turning off the people around me!
Yes, it was a cold and rainy June this summer, which inhibited us from really enjoying Millennium Park concerts like we wanted to. But, usually, summer in Chicago is amazing. Heading to the “Bean” and letting the daughter splash around the adjoining park and fountains, the Scoville Park concerts every Sunday night in Oak Park, top down drives in my convertible along Lake Shore Drive, just heading out into the heat and humidity after a winter stuck indoors… all such a treat! The city comes alive. If only it were more than a few months a year!
4. Sky’s the Limit
There’s something about the great world metropolises like Chicago where anything is possible. Anything you consider doing, professionally and personally, there is an outlet when there is 7 million people surrounding you. For me, huge hospital systems, community health systems large and small, educational opportunities, the home of many healthcare organizations. That translates down to our daughter, If she chose to stay near us or come back when she has a family of her own, there is no limit to colleges and career opportunities in Chicago for her to do and be whatever she prefers (though we’re still hoping for Supreme Court Justice, even thought that would mean a relocation to DC for her!). Not to say that smaller towns don’t have plenty of opportunity, but wow, there truly a sense of the sky’s the limit here in Chicago.
5. The history / friends
You don’t spend over three decades in a place, including all of your childhood, without forming amazing memories. Every time I drive into downtown on the Ike, I remember the trips to the Canal Street exit as a kid to weekly practices for Chitrahar Night (Indian cultural event run by a local Indian TV show). Prom night, medical school orientation week celebration, and my wedding on the yachts from Navy Pier (picture above from our ceremony). On and on…
The people I’ve spent the last month with to say goodbye are folks that I’ve known since as far back as kindergarten. Luckily with Facebook and Skype, keeping in touch will be easier than ever. And there are plenty of direct flights from Chicago to Tucson, so the goodbye isn’t forever. But it won’t be the same. And that’s the hardest part.
Chicago, I won’t miss your weather, sitting in traffic at all hours of the day and night, avoiding riding my bike after daylight savings due to the fear of violence in the dark evenings. But I’ll miss you and your people.
Thanks for making the first 35+ years of my life so memorable and meaningful.