Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nine years ago today

I woke up to a beautiful Iowa sunrise, packed a U-Haul with everything that was left after I’d sold 75% of my belongings in a yard sale the day before, said goodbye to the city I’d called home for 32 years, and drove excited and scared to Chicago.

Two weeks earlier, I’d been in Chicago visiting a friend for pride. I’d decided it would be fun to interview at a big-city advertising agency while I was here. Just for the practice. You know: in case I decided to move here sometime in the distant, distant future. Because moving to Chicago was just a pipe dream. A crazy, insane, brave-person pipe dream.

Imagine my surprise when the big Chicago agency offered me a job on the spot. And offered to reimburse me for my moving expenses. And could I start in two weeks?


So over the next two weeks I quit my job, listed my house, organized a massive garage sale, day-tripped to Chicago to find an apartment I could move into almost immediately, and never let myself think too hard about what I was doing out of fear I might talk myself out of it.

I drove to Chicago nine years ago today in my little green Neon and Mom and Dad bounced along behind me in the U-Haul. It hadn’t occurred to me that my 60-ish parents were not an ideal U-Haul-unloading team until a couple days before the move, so—since I’d yet to hear about craigslist and it was too late to hire the few movers I could find and I couldn’t conjure up many other options—I sent an email to the tiny handful of people I knew in Chicago, asking nicely (but not needily) if they could possibly meet us at 10:00 that Sunday morning in front of my new apartment. And when we pulled up, they were there. All of them. My sainted welcoming committee. And together we carried everything I owned from the truck up a three-flight spiral staircase into my elfin starter apartment in less than an hour. And then they disappeared back into their beautiful summer weekends … and, unfortunately, they all eventually drifted completely out of my life. But that’s a lament for a different blog post. (If any of you boys are reading this, I thank you again for your help that morning. And please know I’ve paid your immense favor forward to at least 10 other friends here in Chicago over the years.)

Mom and Dad helped me unpack a few boxes and get my bed put together and find some basic utensils so I wouldn’t starve, but they had to get back on the road so they could return the U-Haul. So we shared some hugs and said some good-byes and I got some you-be-carefuls and they climbed in the truck and bounced down the road toward Iowa.

And as I stood there waving goodbye on my new street in front of my new apartment at the dawn of my new life and my new career in my new city, I thought to myself Holy shit, what have I done?

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