sweet home Chicago

I have been thinking about this line from my post last week a lot: “I won’t ever be the girl I was in Chicago again.”

You see, I used to live in Chicago. Those of you who know me are probably tired of hearing me talking about it. I lived in Chicago for three years after I graduated from college. I moved back to California to attend grad school last summer. I braved the Chicago winters, I braved the summers, I found places to live and places to work, I paid my bills, and I made friends. I became an adult.

I think I have missed Chicago so much in the past year, not because it is an awesome city (though that’s part of it), but because it represents the only time in my life that I was a not-sick adult. The girl I was in Chicago didn’t know what neuroendocrine cancer was–even though it was growing inside her even then. She worried about how to get around, and keeping her finances under control, and what she was going to do after work, and whether she was practicing her violin enough, and the best bike route to work, and how to use her farmer’s market vegetables before they went bad. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she grew up, but she was in love, and she had friends, so she was pretty happy.

Me, in Chicago, summer 2007.

It’s hard to compare this life to the life I have in LA. Half the time I can’t get around, my finances are out of control because i’m in grad school and paying for medical bills and prescriptions, there is no “after work,” I haven’t been riding my bike or practicing my violin or cooking as much because I didn’t feel well enough for a long time. In theory I know what I want to do when I grow up, but i’m no longer in love. I do have lots of family nearby. And many good friends.

Oh, and cancer.

But I have finally stopped wishing I was back in Chicago. I have stopped wishing I could go back and visit Chicago all the time. I have stopped wishing anything Chicago.

I’m not sure what changed. I think I just changed. I will always look back fondly on my life there, and probably continue to annoy people by talking about it a lot: but i’m content here now. My life in LA doesn’t have to be defined by my getting diagnosed with cancer. Increasingly, it’s not. Cancer is present in everything I do, but it’s not everything.

People always ask me if I would move back. I say no. “Not unless it somehow got relocated closer to California.” People also ask me if I’m going to stay in LA after I graduate. I say yes. Nevermind i’m seeing some of the best doctors I could be seeing for neuroendocrine cancer and my family is nearby. LA has potential.

Especially because now, and for a few weeks, I get a break from school. I’m done with my finals, and therefore, my first full quarter of graduate school where I took a full load and finished all of my classes. My life in LA is defined by accomplishment. And my 15 minutes of fame.

And sun.

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9 Responses to sweet home Chicago

  1. Bill Lascher says:

    Loved this one. It’s such a familiar sensation of the being where one’s not where one was. I think you capture a sense of transition, of getting older, of moving along (along, not on) that is somewhat universal. And, being a step or two further down the road, It’s noteworthy to me that it’s a feeling that seems to ebb and flow. Thanks for the reminder, anyhow, that there’s a beauty in where we are as much as where we’ve been.

  2. Momo says:

    Living your life in Chicago has been always a part of you and will stay with you forever, no matter if Chicago gets closer to California or not. :-)

    Make memories,
    PS: Beautiful picture with a pretty smile on your face.

  3. Adam Welsch says:

    I love Chicago the pizza, Joes steak house and crab, which is the best steak I have ever had in my life. oh forgot your a vegetarian.. lol Anyways, Chicago is so fun.. I love going there once a year for vacation. The people are not stuck up and snooty like Cali…. yes I am sure you dont miss the Winters, but after April 1st it is beautiful…

  4. Saso says:

    “You cannot step into the same river twice.” Heraclides Ponticus

  5. tim says:

    if jgl says no, i’ll gladly join you for coffee :D amazing blog btw! i’ve been sharing your youtube video because i think it’s incredibly brave of you!!

  6. Matt says:

    And because ur moving on! Reinventing urself! Great post!!

  7. Beth says:

    Hi, I have been following your blog since I saw your youtube video….i loved it…you are so beautiful and brave and I admire your courage! I totally relate to this post, for years North Carolina was my Chicago…..but you are finding your way in your new home more quickly than I found my way in mine.

    I don’t know if you have a personal faith or not…but God loves all of us and I hope you find comfort in Him. I’m praying for you….beth

  8. Adric says:

    It was really hard for me to stop wishing for my past, too. What changed for me was a recognition that you can’t really weight the past against the present. Each is a unique experience in a history forever being written, and while you might be happier in one moment but not the other, they’re just different; not comparative. While it’s great to appreciate what once was, finding meaning in the present moment matters more than anything else. After all, each of us is presented with certain blocks, struggles, etc. in our lives, but it’s the choices we make in response that define us, not the struggles themselves. And it’s only when we accept the present that we can begin to deal with the future.

    At least, so I like to believe.

    Your line about “Not unless it somehow got relocated closer to California” made me grin. Sometimes I wish cities had legs, if nothing else so we could move mine farther north in the summer then back down for the winter. (Perhaps they could go on tour? “Coming to an arena near you, this Sunday only: The Capitals of the World Tour! Featuring PARIS, LONDON, TOKYO, and the DJ talents of NYC!)

    Any plans for your new-found time off, or the holidays? Besides, I hope, relaxing :)

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