Growing up my Dad was in the military so we moved…a lot. The shortest we ever stayed was 6 months, the longest was right around 4 years. Generally speaking, ever 3-4 years we’d pack up our entire house (correction: a moving company packed up our entire house) and move, typically across the country if not the globe. After high school I left Utah (where I’d lived for 4 years) and moved to New Orleans for college, where, by basic undergraduate math, I lived for four years, minus the summers that I spent in Dallas, Texas. My college friends were always very confused about where I was from, I’d gone to high school in Utah but only went back there for Christmas, my car had license plates from Georgia which is where my brother went to college and I spent my Thanksgiving holidays but I had a Texas drivers license and I spent my summers sweltering in Dallas. Also: this made my application for the bar very, very complicated.
After college I left New Orleans and moved to Chicago, where in my estimation I’d live for three years before moving back to New Orleans. Shortly after starting law school Hurricane Katrina put a wrench in the economy down there, and then in my third year of law school I met B and figured I’d stay, and what the hell, why shouldn’t I take the Illinois bar exam, this seems like a great idea. Spoiler Alert: I can assure you all I will only take one bar exam, ever, in my entire life. There is not enough money in the world to convince me to do that again. So, Illinois it was. B and I fell in love, got engaged, found jobs, got married.
And somewhere in there, I felt the itch to move. Europe, the West Coast, perhaps Vermont. I’d watch House Hunters and tell B how great _____ City was and how we should move there. He would tell me I would have to take their bar exam, and I’d tell him I liked Chicago after all. Round and round we went, until somewhere along the line, a few amazing jobs in Washington D.C. turned up. Applications were sent because you want to know what I love about Washington D.C.? You don’t have to take the bar exam if you already passed another one. (Simple answer. Waiving in is slightly more complicated and yes, I know how it works, and no, I don’t need you to tell me, just accept my simple version of the truth.) Suddenly I imagined Saturday’s brunching in Georgetown, a single family home with a yard in some neat town outside of DC, date nights at the Kennedy Center. Of course DC has its downfalls, namely the humidity and the fact that you pretty much have to wear your resume on your lapel and if it doesn’t say something like “Harvard” no one takes you seriously, but it also has museums and restaurants and politics and suburbs that don’t make me want to shank myself in the eye. (Chicago suburbs….are not my thing.) WE WERE MOVING TO DC!
And then, while we waited to hear back I started thinking, and while I know I could move to DC and build a life there and be happy and love everything about it, I realized I love Chicago. I love the town and how I know how to avoid the tourists on Michigan Avenue and that I finally know the names of every expressway and where they go. I know the good delis and the tourist traps, I know where to go listen to jazz and where to find a great martini and which bar in the city has the best mac & cheese bites you’ll ever have the pleasure of dipping in ranch dressing. I’ve checked amazing restaurants off my list and I can now bring up a new store by referencing what used to be there and I can successfully navigate myself to any neighborhood with nothing but a bus pass. I have a hair dresser I love, I’m a regular at more than one restaurant in my neighborhood and more than the town and the sailing and the bike paths, I love my people. Our friends who invite us over for dinner, who stop by for a drink on a Saturday evening, who we celebrate holidays and every day with. If I was alone in an emergency room I have an entire phone list of people who would drop everything to come sit with me, and when I had my appendix out the flower delivery man knew my name because we have so many amazing people around us. My husband I, both transplants from other places, have built a life, a support network, and our own little community.
And suddenly I realized, perhaps after all these years, I’m home.