Thursday, August 9, 2012

changes

"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 Paine 
I'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.


Chicago is my home, and has been for my entire adult life.


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.

31 comments:

  1. The city will miss you just as much as you will miss it, girl! Besides, you're going to dominate all of those suburban races :)

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  2. I am totally a suburbs girl. I think it will be the best for raising a fam and you can still visit the city. I like my space and quiet. :)

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    1. i like the hustle & bustle of the city and rarely even notice the noise. hoping that the quietness of the burbs won't be deafening!

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  3. I taught for 7 years in the Chicago Public Schools, but the year I found out I was pregnant I knew that would be my last year teaching. We moved 2 hours south to a teeny tiny town of 2500 and I don't miss the city one bit! You will find things to love about your new community:)

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    1. hopefully. we are actually moving to the town that we both grew up in, which means i just have some thoughts that it'll be the same place it was 10+ years ago. we'll see, it may surprise me.

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  4. I moved out of Chicago and back into the suburbs eight years ago when I graduated from Loyola, and my goal at the time was to eventually move back into the city. Still waiting for that to happen ... I will admit, I still long to live in the city; every time I set foot in Chicago (which is daily with my commute), I still wish I lived here. But on the other hand, I do love living so close to my family. Are you just looking to move, or have you already made plans to move? I think living near the "downtown" of a more urban suburb might be an easier transition. I lived for a year within walking distance of downtown Downers Grove and it was nice.

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    1. we actually are closing on a house in the western burbs just past dg next friday. looked in oak park and other closer burbs, but just couldn't find anything we liked in our price range that didn't need 10's of thousands of $$$ of work. i'm like you, hoping that one day we will find ourselves back here. it's a hard decision to make when your parents are getting older and you want to spend more time with them but at the same time want to keep with the lifestyle that you love. family always trumps though, and they never want to come into the city because they just don't have those same loving feelings for it as we do.

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    2. The older I get, the more important I realize family is, and you only have so much time with them. I think especially if/when we have kids, time with family will be even more of a priority. I really did like DG, I think it's a nice place to live and raise a family too. Are you originally from the western burbs?

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  5. I love this post, but it makes me sad at the same time. My husband and I are starting to think about these things, and moving "out" makes me heartbroken. I love everything about where we live, similar to you and Chicago. You will make a new life and MANY wonderful things will happen in your new "city" - and no matter what happens, you'll always have Chicago in your heart. Good luck with the move, can't wait to see the new place! :)

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  6. Congrats on the new house. Is the title of your blog going to change? "DG Runner Woman", perhaps? :-) Don't worry, some of our city neighbors moved back here from the 'burbs after their kids were grown. You never know what life will bring you.

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  7. Remember moving to Chicago and remember the change and how great it was. This change could have the same affect on you as well. I can't wait to make it to Chicago one day.

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  8. I'm a suburbs/mountain girl myself, so you may surprise yourself! Before you know it, the sound of the el will be replaced by the sound of the wind in the trees and twice as calming. Promise :)

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  9. My heart is breaking for you! Change is so hard. I remember my first house in the burbs......so excited at closing only to realize a week later that I hated the burbs. My love was the country though, not the city. I'm back in the middle of nowhere now & much more at peace. I do work in the city though so have the best of both worlds. Good luck, you will find your way "home" in time.

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  10. My heart is breaking for you! Change is so hard. I remember my first house in the burbs......so excited at closing only to realize a week later that I hated the burbs. My love was the country though, not the city. I'm back in the middle of nowhere now & much more at peace. I do work in the city though so have the best of both worlds. Good luck, you will find your way "home" in time.

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  11. Your photos of the city are amazing! I hope you can find a place to call your own someday that you can afford and is in a great location that you love, whether it's in the city or the suburbs. :)

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  12. Have you watched Suburbia (on ABC)? Not quite the same issue, but you might find some snarky comic relief. I grew up in a city and wanted to raise my family in the suburbs to have the life I thought I missed--a neighborhood pool, safe places to ride a bike, etc. When my kids are safely launched into their own careers, we may "downsize" back to a more urban neighborhood--I'd love to be able to walk to a coffee shop, restaurant or bar.

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  13. Noooooooo!!! Okay, I totally understand the need to move out of the city to start a family and afford a home. But I also completely understand your love for the city. Especially a beautiful city like Chicago. I miss it all the time! But wewanderandponder is right! You will dominate those suburban races. :)

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  14. Britt, I loved this post. Your writing here is beautiful and I can truly feel your emotions.
    I had the same feeling when I moved to the burbs, though the burbs of Boston are somewhat different than the burbs around other major cities. I have a kid but refused to get a minivan. I surround myself with moms that I like and are not into raising the perfect child in perfectly iron clothes spending their time from hairdresser appointment to the nail salons. There are running communities in the burbs, and real women like you who had to move from the big city for the same reason.
    It won't be easy but you will adjust and you will grow into your own life while remaining true to who you are.
    Really great writing here Britt!

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  15. I would love to live in the city for just part of my life. Who knows if that will ever happen though. I was in Chicago for a week once. It was beautiful! Love that city!

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  16. Change is always a tough pill to swallow, but I'm confident you will find many splendid things about your new suburban locale. I will certainly miss seeing you and D on the path on the weekends. I wish you all the best in this new chapter of your life. :)

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  17. I realized what a wonderful photographer you are in this post! Your introspective posts have the most beautiful photos... not that your other ones are not, but they are either race photos of you (obviously not taken by you), and/or iphone photos on the run. But these have some gorgeous perspectives that put our lovely city on display!

    Are you making a bucket list of 'must do' items? My heart goes out to you as you prepare for this move!

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    1. i've had a bucket list of items that somehow got out of control with must do's. we've done quite a few of them, but it was looking like it would cost a small fortune to do everything and there just isn't enough time to hit up 100 spots before leaving. i have lots of chitown favs that i wanted to say goodbye to.

      glad you enjoyed the shots, some of them i've actually taken with my iphone and just sharpened on the computer to get a clearer image.

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  18. Change is incredibly tough and I think in many ways it's human nature to be reluctant towards it. I may be biased, but I grew up in the suburbs (about 25 min outside of the city) my entire time in America (19 years) and it's not bad I promise! I LOVE the busy bustling city with its gorgeous sights, sounds, and smells but the suburbs are superior to the city in ways you will soon discover. Embrace it! Everything happens for a reason so just ride it out and keep in mind that there is always a different path to take if you're unhappy :)

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  19. OH MAN! This post made me so nostalgic! I, too, have lauged upon many a rooftop, including one that we owned (on Ashland, near Paulina!) and selling our home in the city was one of the hardest things we ever had to do. But, I'm realizing that maybe it was a good thing that we HAD to move to Seattle because of my husband's job when we were in our late 20s. That way, the decision was made for us and it was out of our hands! Good for you for making the decision that's right for your family/soon to be family. Everything happens for a reason and, per someone's earlier comment, you shouldn't ever change your Chicago Runner Girl name - it's in your heart, no matter where you go. The city is, and will always be, a huge part of who I am, even though I've been thousands of miles away for many years. :)

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    1. oh i'm totally keeping it. CRG forever! besides, there is still a chance that we may make it back...hopefully! and we will be in the chicagoland area. i'm going to be one of those lame people that refuses to tell people what burb they are from and just say chicago whenever anyone asks.

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  20. It's interesting - I grew up in the suburbs, but moved to downtown for a year with my husband when he got out of the military. I really loved living downtown. I got used to the noise, to the "interesting" people outside when I'd take my dog out at midnight, and to walking everywhere. Ultimately we moved back to the suburbs due to money and some issues with the new management. Overall, I think it was the right decision for us, but after living downtown, it feels strange out here.

    Good luck to you! Things will work out :)

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    1. i think that's how it'll be for me, strange. people are just different in the burbs and it'll take me awhile to adjust. not used to talking to my neighbors or getting to know the people who live around me, you don't do that here. if someone talks to you on the street that you don't know that usually means they are crazy so you just stay clear!

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  21. haha...u girl, are going kicking and screaming all the way to the burbs!! i'm one of the idiots who said it won't be that bad, and i SWEAR u will not turn into some kind of droid. that said, if u are approached by a neighbor who starts talking...don't worry they are prolly just trying to be friendly. that said, if u wind up sacked and chucked off a bridge with bricks tied to ur legs, then i'll be eating those words. ;)

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  22. I completely understand what you are going through and it stinks!! I am hoping that your new area will be perfect for you guys and that you will adjust smoothly:)

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  23. Really. The burbs aren't as bad as you city people think. What you should look for is something close enough to the city so you can drive or take the train in whenever! I live in Elmhurst right next to the train station and we're in the beautiful city of Chicago within 45 minutes!

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  24. I love Chicago. My brother-in-law and his wife live there and will eventually move to the burbs once they start a family, I'm sure. Funny how people in the city and burbs are totally different.

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