"The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by relection."
Thomas PaineI'm an urban dweller where Chicago has not only become the city I live in but has somehow crept its way inside my soul and has become a huge part of who I am. The sound of el tracks and CTA buses buzzing by my home create a soothing hush of white noise that calms the chatter in my mind. Here is a place where a good cup of coffee goes well beyond Starbucks, chain restaurants and far and few between, hipsters are always welcomed, and the concrete jungle makes everything seem brilliantly and beautifully possible.
This is the city where I reluctantly toted off to college 10 years ago.
The city where my husband proposed to me on bended knee in a horse drawn carriage coasting along Michigan Avenue on a freezing cold night in December of 2005.
The city where I moved into my first solo apartment that was the size of a closet and had a view of an alley.
The city where I was married on a cold and rainy August evening.
The city where my husband and I bought our pups and started to form our little family.
The city where I fell head over heels in love with running and have run 10's of thousands of miles along the lakefront.
Here is where I've lost my way and found it again, learned to love myself for who I am, and developed a deeply rooted appreciation for urban architecture. I've cried on these streets, laughed on the rooftops, and freed my wayward soul on the lakefront.
I've always pictured my life here; settling down, raising a family, growing old along the shore, living out lives adventures with the Chicago skyline as my background. That simple and that beautiful with no fancy frills.
But life has made it clear in 2012 that those dreams I've spent the latter parts of my 28 years moonstruck over may not be what they seem. That beautiful brownstone walk up on a quiet street is well out of financial reach for most 20-somethings, the delicately gorgeous children that are half me and half him will never be able to have the amazing educational opportunities our parents graciously provided us with, and old age simply starts to sound grim when the thought of isolation from family just for a beautiful view plays out in my mind.
Sometimes your greatest fear in life becomes your inevitable doom, just awaiting your arrival on it's doorstep. For me that fear is an established life in the suburbs. Mini vans, carpools, Old Navy, Olive Garden date nights, keeping up with those damn Jones', none of which seem to suit me. The suburban life to me seems like a pair of expensive designer heels that looks great on the rack, but once you put them on they are uncomfortable and just don't wear right. They give you blisters, make you walk funky and the only thought your mind can handle is how many minutes left you have in them until you can unbuckle and cut loose to become yourself again.
We connect ourselves to things that are beautiful and liven our spirit, Chicago is that for me. It brings out my best when I'm at my worst letting me dream big with a wild heart. Between the late evening shadows where the suns rays glisten and peek through the buildings illuminating years and years of history, the Intelligentsia Coffee that tastes like a bit of heaven on my lips, and the beat of the Lake Michigan waves dauntlessly crashing against the shoreline, this city speaks my language. I feel so at home on these streets where it breaks my heart to know that we are in our final days together.
People say that the suburbs aren't as bad as they seem, but I'm not buying it. Chicago leaves big shoes to fill. Maybe the change will be the challenge my content soul needs, but I'm not there yet. Until then every time I close my eyes I'll be standing alone on the lakefront, breathing in the smog-filled air as honking horns from LSD and sirens echoing off of buildings bring my soul the peace it craves.