After ALREADY/ONLY 6 months in Chicago, John and I have about 5,000 pictures together on these bridges. We have about 60,000 thousand photos of us in Chicago in general. And I have about 20,000 photos of Chicago’s landscape. Yes, we have 85,000 photos in the last six months.
Since moving here, we have made a handful of friends to add to our bunch of forever kind of pals. (If you read TALL, DARK & HANDSOME (for a woman) – SEEKING Fellow Carb Lover & Outdoor Activist you will know just how gruesome it was to try to make friends.) We now have friends who we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with and we are also spending American Thanksgiving & Christmas with (and potentially NYE.) Yay!
Okay Lovelies, so in my VERY FIRST POST as LisaListed I promised that I would share the good, the bad and the ugly… so I’ll give you a little taste of some of the ugly. Keep in the back of your minds that we DO love it here, but I will keep my word and dip your toes into the ugly pool.
It hasn’t all been rainbows and butterflies … there have also been some tornadoes and rats:
– There has only been ONE teary phone call to Mom and Dad. The loneliness and home sickness hit me for about 24 hours about 5 months in, but it subsided pretty quickly. Although I’m sure that son of a gun will strike again… probably in the dark and dreary winter.
– Crossing the street is a daily activity of playing chicken with cars, taxis, buses, etc… so far I have an undefeated record
– I was almost mugged once but thankfully had nothing on me.
– I’ve just gotten off the phone talking to three different health insurance companies trying to pay one stupid bill but each company that I talk to tells me that I need to call a different company… and getting ahold of an actual person to speak with is a God send! Until they tell you to call a different company… then I hate them as much as the computer I was just yelling at trying to say “claim” clearly enough so they could direct my call properly. And then you finally get a hold of a person who is as useless as a left toe… I’m still pissed if you can’t tell. Just take the money or let me keep it.
– It sometimes terrifies me knowing that we live in a city where terrorism is a true threat… to live in a city where people carry guns, where people get mugged, where the streets are lined with beggars. There are streets where I spin my wedding rings so that the diamonds face the inside of my hand and I am extra aware of who is walking beside and behind me. I’ve asked John on more than one occasion “was that a gunshot?” and there have been times when he can’t tell me with absolute certainty that it wasn’t…
– It’s scary to know that the newspaper here has an entire section under the Sports Headlines titled “Homicide Watch Chicago”. And I’m mad at myself for becoming desensitized to reading about all the shootings that happen almost every single night… I have caught myself thinking “only 4 shots last night, not bad..” and I HATE that.
We still have frustrations here… I’m working up the courage to write a follow up post to The Not So Warm Welcome – We Blame You Justin Bieber. Maybe courage is the wrong word… I’m working up the energy to do so. And also the patience, I get so pissed off thinking about some of the things we’ve had to deal with (mainly healthcare. Grr..) I had thought that most of the confusing paperwork and the hours dealing with the Government, the Embassy, DMV were a thing of a past… but they most certainly are not… we are already dealing with filing our taxes and I can tell already that this is going to be one expensive, confusing and frustrating situation. Although MAYBE in another six months I will finally be able to receive a drivers license – YAY!
(That being said, we both feel very safe here. I’m working on my street cred every day (just kidding… kind of.) It is just the reality of living in a big city and we are both new to this. In all seriousness, if we didn’t LOVE it here then we wouldn’t still be here.)
Our journey has taught us more about different cultures. Has taught us about a variety of paperwork that I do not wish to pass onto my worst enemy. Our journey has allowed us to view life in a new light. I am a different person compared to who I was this time a year ago.
Who I was a year ago is so different from who I am today. How ironic that a year ago today we moved into our “forever home” not having any idea that our “forever” in that home would hardly last six months… I still cannot get over this. It blows my mind. John and I sometimes talk about that house and long over the amazing kitchen, main floor and backyard but we quickly remind ourselves of having to shovel the three car garage’s driveway twice a day. And that normally curbs the longing. We have adjusted from living in a four bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home to living in a one bedroom/one bathroom apartment pretty well (although there were most definitely times were I wanted to pull my hair out due to lack of storage. Our vacuum cleaner’s home was in our hallway for the longest time, then it was moved to behind the couch, and then finally we managed to somehow make room for it in our bedroom closet.) Our storage locker is perfectly suited to hold a set of winter tires and hockey gear. So Canadian of us.
When we moved into our home, we had no idea that six months from then John and I would have two weeks to sell ALL of our furniture, donate everything else, and put whatever we could stuff into our Ford Edge to bring with us to a whole new country. I realized over Thanksgiving that I had even given our gravy boat away. We had celebrated Christmas & John’s Dad’s birthday at our forever home last year and I’m so thankful to have created those memories. But a home is where your heart is, and our hearts have settled quite nicely into our rented itty bitty home in Chicago.
In some ways it feels like we have been in Chicago now for SO much longer and in other ways it feels like we are still so fresh here. It’s weird. When I’m asked where I am from, I still say Canada. And then I have to say:
“no, not Toronto or Vancouver. Calgary.”
“No, Calgary is not close to Toronto, it’s about an hour east of the Canadian Rockies.”
Which I typically receive a blank face from and follow up with “North of Montana.” (When I’m asked where I grew up, then I say in a small town relatively close to the Alaskan border because can you even try to explain where the hell Peace River is!? Explaining where Peace River was to fellow Albertans was difficult enough – my go to response was always a heavy footed 5 hours north of Edmonton.) I’ve been told that we’ve been here long enough to respond to that question with “Chicago” but no matter how long we live here, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to say that I’m not from Canada.
Whenever I see somebody wearing something with some sort of Canadian symbol, I get SOO excited. Embarrassingly excited. Within our first month or so of being here, I saw somebody in Millennium Park wearing a T-shirt with a Canadian flag on it… before I knew what I was doing I smiled at him with a big, goofy grin and followed that up with a ginormous over friendly wave. Like not just a cute little wave with my fingers… but my WHOLE ENTIRE ARM flailing in the air, like I was waving my hands in the air and I just didn’t care. I didn’t realize at the time that maybe he didn’t know that I was Canadian, and I had hoped that IF HE DID KNOW he wouldn’t have given me that strange look.
Just this past weekend, John and I were walking admiring the fall foliage when I saw three guys coming towards us… one of them had on a hat with a curved red ‘C’… I had mistaken this symbol for the Montreal Canadiens symbol when in fact the guy was wearing a Chicago Bears hat. I couldn’t help myself from pointing at him (again, full arm exertion and index finger out loud and proud), smiling and much too loudly saying/shouting “CANADA” at him. We made eye contact and it was weird. I wouldn’t have blamed John if he had explained to the guy that he was taking me for a walk from my “home”. I’m doing my best to work on keeping my outbursts intact. I’m still learning how to cool my jets. Whenever I see a little piece of “home”, I have an overwhelming sense of emotion in my soul.
I love all of the Canadian stereotypes and it makes me feel strangely happy when a smart ass asks me to say “A-B-O-U-T” – sometimes I humour them and say “aboot” doing my best to not crack a smile. Most often times I pronounce it as “about” and they kind of get disappointed. Other times I have been asked where my accent is from and I proudly say that I’m Canadian. Then do the whole “no, not Toronto or Vancouver” dance all over again. I’ve been told that I pronounce “bag” and “pasta” funny . I quite enjoy hearing that I have an accent. On the flip side, I often see tourists looking super confused and lost and I offer to help them… I also have a strange sense of pride in being a local. Maybe I’ll just coin the term and call myself a Canadian Chicagoan – who likes ketchup on her “hawt dawg.” A Ketchup Eating Canadian Chicagoan – there ya have it, folks!
Since being in Chicago, our lives have changed drastically. Our lifestyles have changed immensely. And our relationship feels like we are dating ALL over again. A few weeks ago I had received a text from my friend which said that she had just saw John and I and that we had looked like best friends rather than an old married couple. I couldn’t imagine a better compliment to receive about our marriage than that. Not that we were ever unhappy in Calgary or had a bad relationship, but our evenings and weekends were WAY different from what they are here. We are just so much happier now.
One of the biggest truths I’ve learnt about big life changes is that some people won’t come with you. And that’s okay. Plenty of people miss their share of happiness – not because they never found it but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it. This journey has forced us to stop and enjoy it. Life to me is about going on adventures. Being around good energy. Connecting with people. Learning new things. Growing. There are days where you will have to create your own sunshine – but you can’t enjoy the rainbow without a little rain, right?
My perspective and view on life are a trillion time different from the Lisa who had just moved into her forever home with my handsome husband and I’ve got to tell you this…
My life today is richer, fuller, HAPPIER, healthier and now has more depth.
My life today ensures that I am not just living the same year 40 times in a row and calling that a life.
I’ve learnt that happiness and success is about spending life in your own way. There is no “wrong way”. Live a life that feels right to you… nothing’s more fun than doing something that somebody said you can’t.
Each and every day now gets lived, so even though we still have frustrations and miss our loved ones back in Canada, I’m not sure there is a more beautiful thing to discover about life then to truly live each and every day. Stop focusing so much on living a perfect life that you forget to live.
My lovely, I have learned that there will be times in your life when all of your instincts will tell you to do something. Something that will defeat logic, upset your plans and may seem crazy to others. When that happens, you do it. Listen to your instincts and ignore everything else. Ignore logic, ignore the odds, ignore the complications and just go for it.
I’ve learnt that life isn’t necessarily about the happy ending… it’s about the story.