We woke to my two-year-old announcing, “Look, it’s a snow globe outside!”
I smiled at her description; she’s right. Had it been a few weeks ago, it would have elicited some warm fuzzy feeling, but after months of this, with no thaw in between or sign of spring in sight, we sounded a collective groan. We pulled out the phone to check the weather and saw the big, fat zero on the greasy-fingerprinted screen. 0-degree Fahrenheit. Again. Deeeeeelightful.
I know I will miss Chicago when I leave, but when I ran my last Chicago 10K this past Saturday, with the blustery lakefront winds crashing into my face like a bucket of ice water each time I inhaled, I have to admit it’s hard to see what it is I would miss. Knowing that I no longer needed to be a winter warrior once we move to Austin has dissolved my resolve to fight the cold. I just want to get the hell out of here.
I know I will miss my beloved city, but not now. Not like this.
We spent the weekend in an upheaval, unearthing items long buried in storage, and purging, collecting, wondering: donate or keep? Because we’re removing items from their neatly stacked crevices, it seems like our house is multiplying, our belongings shifting restlessly, a pile here, a pile there, living areas consumed by stuff, stuff we like, stuff we forgot we had, stuff everywhere! My life, at this point, makes about as much sense now as the previous sentence.
From someone who just recently reveled in the happiness that’s derived from having a (clutter free) room of one’s own, I have to say that this state of suspension – eager to leave, but not quite there – is wreaking havoc to my system. I am not unhappy, but I also struggle to sing while I work. This is temporary, I tell myself. A necessary evil to a decision that, we hope, will eventually bring us the life we want. But when I’m drowning in stuff, I become myopic about the future.
Don’t get me wrong; I can’t wait to leave. Yet, saying that feels like a betrayal to a city that has been so good to me for the last 16 years. Of course, this winter has skewed my appreciation for its finer points, but it doesn’t feel right to want to look past all that it has ever given me either. After all, this is the city where I met My Guy, where my girls were born, where I learned to love winter and running, even winter running, where I started an appreciation for craft beer and now whiskey.
When we decided to leave Chicago that one fateful evening, I spent all of the next day crying. Grieving, actually. I could barely hold it together as I drove the streets that were more familiar to me than the lines on my own hands. I bawled at the brilliant blue of the lake that greeted me when I stepped outside my home and into the street that’s lined with trees that touched in the middle to form a canopy in the way that majestic old trees do.
It was a very difficult day for me, but when I peeled away from the comforting arms of My Guy at the end of the day, I felt an immediate release. Suddenly, it was time to look forward and let go. No more tears.
It’s liberating to be able to be excited about moving forward, but there are still moments that trip me up. Like these banners, here.
They are banners of flags that my girls made with the help of their Auntie, my best friend, who made it a point to spend all day with us this weekend before 1,500 miles inevitably find their way between us. While I packed, she patiently instructed my girls to create flags that we recognize, and ones from their own imagination. Both girls have their own version of an Austin flag, and now the banners hang in proud display of the time they spent with their auntie, who is so much a part of our family.
It’s a sharp reminder that Austin will have many things Chicago has, but it won’t have the people we love. However, when we leave some things behind, we also make room for others. And so we continue to seal our Chicago memories in boxes, bring what we can take and store the rest in a place that will always be known to us, while we, as a family, venture further and further into the unknown.