Monday, April 27, 2009

Home Again

I did spend time thinking, in the course of the last week, what life would be like if I hadn't left Chicago. What if staying there had been important enough to me 24 years ago, so that I had convinced Ken to come and join me there rather than packing up and joining him in Boston with barely a backwards glance? It was important to me then to leave for so many reasons, and I have no reason to wish away the good life that we have here.

Oh, but I do miss my city. It's a particular pleasure to be able to go back, to rediscover, to cherish a place in a way that I wouldn't have been able to had I stayed. I realized this trip for the first time that really I grew up in a very small town. My neighborhood, Rogers Park, was truly the best of both worlds; a little town of friends and neighbors within the big city. I had a chance to catch up with a handful of people last Friday night -- some of whom I have not seen for 35 years -- and it felt like being with family. We treasure our shared past of growing up near the beach, of knowing each other's families, of going to school together. Danny K. said that he's always willing to do anything for someone from Rogers Park, and I understand exactly what he means. We are connected. Times have changed, the old neighborhood has changed (just a little), but we remain connected in our love of that place.
We packed so much into those few days! Family and friends (though not enough of either), museums, tourist attractions, bus rides, food.
Dean had been looking forward most of all to meeting Noah and Caleb, his cousin Nick's sons.
I've got tons more pictures to go through and post. It was a perfect, if too short, trip, and I think we're all pretty eager to make it again. Maybe I wouldn't love it this much if I had stayed; maybe I'd wish that I'd ventured out and tried something new. I content myself with the knowledge that I am of this place, that the Midwest shaped me in ways that New England can never change. And I still know my way around my city.

3 comments:

Anil P said...

It's a difficult dilemma to face.

Leaving the place where one grew up and let it shape our evolving worldview is easy at first until the new place where we left for has had its run in the years one spends in its embrace, bringing back the longing for the old.

Eventually it's about the people we first learnt to interact with, reveling in the protective warmth of a neighbourhood one's own.

Jennifer said...

So beautifully said! Thank you for sharing.

spins said...

Jen,

Your city is beautiful, no doubt. Yet, leaving when one is ready is always really powerful, and it seems like you're good at making decisions with your heart.

Thanks for your comments about my Jennifer post. You're right – we really do need a club or something. No one else really understands!

jen