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.
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.