The first city I moved to was Milwaukee. It was small – and manageable. It was also very likely the best decision I ever made for myself, because it was the one move that pulled me out of a spiral of self-destruction that lasted for a good decade.
I moved around a bit in the city and my third apartment, a studio in a high-rise, was a place I still think of often. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but one wall was floor to ceiling windows. At night, I would lay in my bed and look out at the skyline – a sea of lights twinkling under the heavy, dark blanket of night – and I never felt alone. There was life out there. I didn’t have to be involved in the life that moved around me, but I knew it was there. And there was something deeply satisfying in knowing that it was in reach, whenever I wanted to touch it.
Two years later, I moved to Chicago. I was in a terrible relationship and the thought of sitting idle for one more moment made me want to crawl out of my skin. I don’t even remember telling him that I was moving. We were still together. He was the type who endlessly considered the pros and cons of jumping. I was the type that jumped without thinking at all.
I couldn’t sit still any longer, stagnant. Teetering on a balance beam between settling and the freedom from settling.
Chicago proved to be everything I wanted. Even though I didn’t have a large group of friends there, as I did in Milwaukee. I once again found myself laying in bed at night… listening to the sound of cars driving, horns honking, laughter and voices… all outside my door. And it never made me feel lonely. It reminded me of life. Again. Right there. Whenever I wanted to join in.
Two years later, I moved back to Milwaukee for a job. I missed Chicago though. And one day, two years after that, an old friend – who was now a recruiter – asked me if I knew anyone who’d be interested in a “dream job” in my field in Chicago. Without even thinking about it, I blurted out, “ME.” And I landed back in the arms of my first true love: Chicago.
This time, I left for good the relationship that tethered me to misery.
Happy. Settled. Ready to stay forever… laying in bed at night, listening to the comforting sounds of chaos.
And then two years later….
What is it with two years?!
I sat in my office… lazily looking over a photo on social media of a friend’s friend. How cute is he? I thought. Divorced… with a beautiful little girl.
Nah, I thought to myself. Don’t start anything you can’t finish.
And then my friend walked in my office, asking me what I was doing. I told her there was this adorable guy… was thinking about messaging him… she laughed and told me to go for it.
“No way! He has a daughter and lives in St. Louis. With my luck, we’ll fall in love and I’ll have to move to St. Louis. I am not moving to St. Louis!”
She laughed at how absurd that statement was.
So, here we are.
I left my first love (Chicago) for my last love. And it has been worth every second.
When you jump sometimes, you don’t land where you intended. Sometimes it leads you to a place you never, ever expected – or ever wanted to be. Or even knew you could be!
But, can you imagine if I hadn’t jumped? Hadn’t realized that what was, wasn’t enough?
Oh, Ivy and Hannah – I hope you always know when it isn’t enough.
I often lay awake at night now, listening to the sound of…
NOTHING. I hear NOTHING.
(I hate you, suburbs.)
But I am so grateful.
I hope you all know when to jump, too.