There’s something to be said for deciding what you want and working towards it. When the time is right, everything will just fall into place. It may take years of planning and hard work, but eventually, you’ll get where you need to be.
Dean and I have been discussing moving from Chicago since before we became engaged. I may have mentioned this in previous posts, but when Dean and I initially started dating, we didn’t know how large the age difference was between us. (Nine and a half years. I could round up to ten, but single digits make me feel better.) I’ve dated large age differences before, the guy I dated before Dean was twenty years older than me, but this was the first time that I had been the older one. Dean thought I was a little younger when we met, I thought he was slightly older. Fortunately, we revealed our birthdays over text message one day, so we were allowed freak out moments without seeing each other’s faces and then were able to compose very chill texts back to each other. I remember Dean’s was, “a lot of good things came out of the 70’s.”
This being the case, I felt very obligated to lay all of my expectations and plans out on the table for him completely transparently. He was at an age when we met where he could still be dating around to have fun. I’d been there, done that. I also didn’t want him to have any illusions once we got serious about what I intended for my life. Two things I made very clear: 1. I was not having children. 2. I was not living in a cold, desolate tundra for the rest of my days.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Chicago. It has the most amazing summers. (If only they were longer.) It has a fantastic public transportation system (yeah, we had issues when they switched to Ventra, but it’s cool now). You can literally find anything you want in Chicago. You can become anything you want. You can do anything you want. I’ve spent the last seventeen years of my life here. Most of my twenties and all of my thirties.
Chicago has given me a lot. I became a ‘real’ actor here. I became a ‘real’ marital artist here. I fought competitively, locally, nationally and internationally. I was in commercials, films, and stage productions of varying degrees of success. I got a black belt. I got an agent. I started teaching martial arts. I started teaching fitness as a career. I became a legit company member of a legit theatre company! I made the most amazing friends. I had my first love and my first devastating heartbreak. I had several other loves and heartbreaks. I got my first ‘just mine’ cat! I watched that cat cross over. I got another cat. Jake is going to live forever. (Shut up, he is.) I found a job that I truly love doing and truly love growing in. I became a homeowner during a weird phase of heartbreak that caused me to vow never to live with another boyfriend again unless I was engaged. I found love in the most unlikely of places, breaking all of the ‘rules’ I had put in place to keep myself safe. I got married.
I moved to Chicago immediately after getting my second bachelor’s degree at LSU in June of 2001. I’m leaving. On Thursday, February 28th in 2019.
I have many reasons to leave Chicago, but I want this entry to focus on the positive. I will only give the two strongest reasons here. I hate the weather. My normal body temperature is somewhere around 97.1, if I am ever 98.6 I am running a fever. I can count on one hand the times in my entire life I have run a fever, and I have had hallucinations every time. I have Raynaud’s. I LOVE running outdoors and bike commuting and am very unhappy when I am unable to do either. Marital arts kept me sane for about ten years as an indoor activity, but my tolerance is getting lower with every passing year. My other reason is my family. When I moved here in my twenties, I was ready for adventure. Ready to become whoever I was going to become and do it in a new and exciting place. I’ve watched my husband visit his family (whom I love) regularly over the last six years that we’ve been dating/married and I’ve been so envious. I want to be able to drive to see my parents and my sister’s family for something as small/monumental as a kid’s birthday party. I want them to feel like they can come up to see me run a half marathon without breaking the bank. We’re all getting older. I want more time.
Dean and I have intentionally spent time in both Louisville and Nashville over the past few years. Short stops in between drives to my parents’ in Alabama for holidays. Destination races. Short vacations. Both places are doable drives from both sets of parents. We settled on Nashville about two years ago. It’s growing. There’s opportunity there. There’s stuff there. It felt right. About a year ago, Dean’s twin brother moved into the area with his family. (I was so jealous.) It felt even more right.
Dean agreed that we could leave once he was vested with his job. Which initially we thought would happen sometime in mid 2020. We made vague plans to leave then. I started decluttering. Read Marie Kondo before it was cool. (My drawers look awesome, by the way.) Then in July he said he had been shown his hours and that he was actually much further along than he thought and would be vested by February or March, 2019. I was ecstatic. Still a little ways off. Not much happened other than more intense decluttering. I contacted the realtor who got me this place just to see what we were looking at (FYI - Chicago’s housing market totally sucks right now, unless you’re buying) and my parents hooked me up with a realtor in Nashville, a daughter of a friend. So we did some exploring and dreaming. We didn’t put it on blast. We told very few people, close friends and family only at first. We didn’t know what was going to happen or when.
We put the place up for sale in January, just to see what would happen. We had to big time declutter and pack things up before this happened. We did all kinds of fixing and cleaning. Every time someone came to see the house we had to leave and get Jake out of the place as well. I think it was most difficult for him. He spent an entire day in my neighbor’s bathroom once because we were going to be out all day and the showing was happening in the afternoon. I took him to a bar one day, a restaurant another day, we took him to a party we were attending at a friend’s house one day. Amazingly no one present was allergic to cats. And each time, we had to hide certain personal things, tuck Jake’s things away, crazy clean the condo. The best part about it was that the place was consistently clean.
One Wednesday, we had our first repeat viewer. He was the second person to see the place. Again, we had to get Jake out. I had a full day, Dean ended up taking half a day sick and taking Jake to the Red Lion Pub again and having dinner. That guy did turn out to be our buyer. The inspection ended up being scheduled on the same day as my biopsy. No one could take Jake, Dean couldn’t take off again, we had to lock Jake in the bedroom and move all of his stuff and, in the words of my realtor “hope the buyer likes cats.” It was a rough day for me. I got home from my biopsy, which was emotional, to find cabinets still open, things pulled out, Jake had somehow been shut away from his litter box all day, I was just … feeling really invaded on a lot of levels. Fortunately, my friend Tiffany came over later with some wine and my amazing husband ordered me shrimp and fish tacos for dinner.
Everything was going really well, the inspection presented no issues, the appraisal went through, it was time to start thinking of next steps. The closing was set for March 18th, so we had a nice length of time to start letting people know, find a place to live, etc. We were applying for a few jobs here and there and putting feelers out, but kind of assumed we’d be living on savings for a bit once we got there. We forwent our normal February vacation in order to save for what I’ve been calling, ‘the Ultimate Vacation.’ Out of the cold anyway.
Wednesday, I was offered a job as general manager for a new corporate fitness club in Nashville, Tennessee. It happened very quickly. I was poking around on LinkedIn for no particular reason, saw one of my connections posted something about an opening for a club in Tennessee, for a company I already worked for. I sent a message and asked about it and was encouraged to apply if I were willing to go down there quickly. So I did. I had a video interview on Tuesday. It was very important to the building managers that their new general manager be there when the club opened on March first. I said I could make it work. I got the job on Wednesday. I told all of my employers that day. I tried to do it in person when possible.
Dean and I will drive through the night tonight and get to Nashville at 1am. Saturday we will spend looking potential new homes. (We’ve decided to rent for a year to figure out where we’re going to be working and where we really want to live.) My parents are coming up to have lunch and dinner with us (soon we’ll be able to do that all the time!) Sunday morning we’ll drive back. I will work my normal schedule for the first part of the week. Thursday I have had a haircut scheduled and I am KEEPING THAT APPOINTMENT! It’s hard to find someone to cut your hair. I plan to pack up my essentials in the morning, drive to the haircut, and leave Chicago with new hair for a new job and a new life.
Dean will stay in Chicago to give his job two (more like three) weeks, get vested and close on our place. (Jake will stay with him. We want to keep this almost-fifteen-year-old kitty in as much normalcy as possible.) My mom-in-law is coming up to help me/us pack and to move me and my bike and the big air mattress down to Nashville on Thursday.
I haven’t been able to tell everyone I want to tell. I haven’t had time to talk to all of the people I want to talk to. Even the past few days, saying goodbye to managers and students and other instructors… the closest I can come to the feeling is at my wedding. And my wedding was small! I did not feel like I had adequate time to talk to everyone for the length of time I wanted to talk to them. It was a momentous occasion and there was so much to be said and not enough time! How do you adequately say goodbye to what you’ve built for seventeen years?
I will come back, for my birthday, on March 16. Help Dean move whatever is left. Make sure the final walk through goes well. Have a birthday/goodbye party. We’re not sure where yet, but we’ll let everyone know. Hopefully I’ll get to give some more highly inadequate goodbyes.
My birthday is March 16th, which is a Saturday this year. The first birthday I had after I moved here was also a Saturday. Only three people came because it conflicted with the St. Patrick’s Day parade. (Which I didn’t know was a thing, coming from New Orleans, what the hell? We’d just had Mardi Gras, who ACTUALLY has a parade for St. Patrick’s Day?) I’m hoping this one will be bigger.
I will miss Chicago. It’s where I became an adult. It’s the kiln that fired my Louisiana clay. (Or the freezer that froze my water, whatever analogy works.) I have lived in this condo in Lincoln Square for ten years. The longest I have lived anywhere since my childhood home from age two to seventeen. The goodbye will be difficult.
But I am ready. I am so ready for the rest of my life. I am ready for the challenges. I am ready for the growth. I am ready for Nashville.