Tuesday, November 5, 2013
This morning my mom called me on my way to work to tell me about an article she read online.
"Your dad sent me this article, and I just loved it! It was so funny, and everything she wrote was so true!"
As she described the article, something clicked into place. I realized I knew the author.
"Mom, did _____ write the article?"
"Yes! She did! How did you know?"
"Mom... I know her. We used to get lunch together back when I lived in DC. She's written a book too..."
As I filled my mom in on the book, my heart twinged a little.
When I lived in Virginia, that sort of thing was commonplace. It seemed like half the people I knew had published a book or several, and the other half had a writing or blogging gig on the side. In DC, all my friends and acquaintances were aware, involved, and intellectually engaged in modern culture.
What a change now that I live in Chicago! Don't get me wrong, I like this city, and I love my friends here (the handful I've met so far). But people here aren't engaged and politically active like my friends in DC were. My parents' friends look at me like I have three heads when I talk about publishing articles, or worse, blogging.
Frank and I chose to move to Chicago because we wanted to live close to extended family when we had children. God made it very clear that he wanted us to live here by providing us both with good jobs very quickly. I do believe that this is where we are meant to be for the long haul.
But oh man, do I miss Virginia sometimes—so much that it hurts.
I miss my amazing friends: Ruth, Colleen, Serena, Meg, Molly, Jackie, Elizabeth, Conor, Lee, Joey, and so many others that I can't begin to name them all. I have met a few great people since moving back to Chicago, but I still feel like I know no one in this city. I would give a lot to meet a few other young couples Frank and I could hang out with.
I miss my old job more than I can say. I was so proud of where I worked and I thrived on the work I was doing. I had close friendships with my co-workers and I believed in the cause I was working for. My new job is great too, but the old one was something really special, and I miss it.
I miss knowing my way around the city. I miss how you could plop me down anywhere in the greater DC metropolitan area and I could find my way home. I don't know Chicago well at all yet, and I get lost pretty much every time I drive somewhere without Frank.
I miss getting together for lunch with women who were my personal heroes, women who have published bestselling books and done work that impacted the world on a grand scale. Those women intimidated me a little bit, but they also inspired me to be like them. Women like that don't seem to live in Chicago.
I miss the perfect plan I had for my future kids' schooling. I was going to send them to my friend Ruth's Catholic Montessori school, and then I was going to send them to an amazing Catholic co-ed high school that was nearby. Here in Chicago, none of the schools seem to be quite what we are looking for, and it gets me worried about the future, even though I know that future is still a long way off.
I miss the DC metro! Can you believe that? I complained about it every day I lived there. But I miss that you could buy tickets with your credit card instead of having to carry cash on you any time you want to take public transportation. I mean, seriously, Chicago??! What is this, the Dark Ages of public transportation?!
I miss the weather in Virginia. It was so much warmer there! I never once had to pull out my giant down coat, in two years of living there, while in Chicago I will need the down coat for months. I miss driving through the rolling hills of the Virginia countryside—one of the most beautiful places in the world.
I could go on and on, but I'll spare you.
Frank and I moved to Chicago, frankly, for ideological reasons. I've read my Wendell Berry and my Front Porch Republic. I believe in "going home," and I share my hero Prof. Deneen's sentiments about leaving Washington.
Even more than ideology, though, I wanted my kids to grow up near family. I grew up far away from my extended family, and I always envied the kids who got to go to school with their cousins and have Sunday dinner at their grandparents'. I dreamed of that for my future family. That was my primary motivation for moving, and I still believe that decision will be worth it.
But in the meantime, Virginia became my home over the two years I lived there. The transition to living in Chicago has been a lot harder than I thought.
I know that someday I will be able to find my way around Chicago. I know that eventually I will have more friends here. I am confident that someday Chicago will feel like home.
But right here, right now, today, Virginia still feels like home, and I'm missing it with all my heart.