Ten years ago today I moved to Chicago with two suitcases, a futon, a lamp, a black and white TV and a laptop. I was fleeing New York in a depressed, overwhelmed, must-leave-now state of mind with little in the way of plans for what I was going to do when I got here. I had taken an apartment sight-unseen on the basis of it being $450 a month for a two-bedroom, for which I was willing to tolerate an occasional bit of summertime shooting. My hope was to become undepressed and appropriately whelmed, and I’m happy to report that my expectations were quickly met and exceeded. Nevermind that I lived mostly in the living room for the first year with only those furnishings and a few others picked up on the street or garage sales. The light coming through my huge windows quickly treated the SAD portion of my disorder, and although I played it safe by not bringing the rest of my belongings to Chicago for that year (having learned my lesson after moving to LA and back to NY in the space of eleven days), I knew pretty quickly that I was in the right place. I love Chicago. Like, romantically. I don’t even really mean that metaphorically. I mean my feelings for Chicago are both explicable and mysterious at once. My heart feels full here. I see the skyline at a certain time of day, or get even a glimpse of the lake, or drive on the little curvy stretch of Elston past the Morton Salt building and I feel right. Not al-right. Right. New York, I have about nine bajillion feelings about and I could explain all of them, but to stretch the not-metaphor, it was a relationship that I may have learned a lot from, certainly even shaped me in many ways, but which stopped working about ten years before I actually left. I suppose that’s fitting – I was never big on being the breaker-upper. And New York always felt, for me, if not altogether wrong, definitely not Right.
So what is the lesson here? Hm, let’s see. If you have a strong feeling about moving to another city nine hundred miles away with no money in your pocket and no plan for what you’re going to do when you get there, go for it? Er, probably not. Probably, there is no lesson. The lesson is don’t do ever what I did, but if you feel completely compelled to do something like it, it just might work out anyway.