Last Friday morning I left for Chicago to stay with my friend Maxime who I had met during my study abroad in Prague, Czech Republic in 2005. It is weird for me to think that it was three years ago that we met and had the time of our lives in a strange country. I have a hard time remembering things that happened last week yet the 5 months that I spent in Prague are still as clear and sharp as this very moment that I am typing this entry.
The plan on going to Chicago was to not really have a plan and let the winds of chance and curiosity takes me wherever they pleased. Max had to work the first day so I decided to walk until I got hungry which usually doesn’t take too long. In this case I wound up walking at a good clip stopping just to visit a museum of “freedom” and to ogle over the former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski get into a car accident right in front of my own two eyes.
The first day was beautiful as far as weather goes. Max had offered to take my bags to the offices so I only had my backpack with camera and laptop for electronic necessities. I spent the first hour or two getting my bearings straight and mapping out the city blocks within my own mind. Once I knew where I was and how to get back to Max’s office I ventured off a bit down Michigan Avenue where all of the shops and sights were. I didn’t notice too much on my first day of walking and I felt like I had missed something. I finally went back to Max’s office to meet up for some lunch and plan out the rest of the weekend.
Later on that night Max took me out to meet his ex-girlfriend for a traditional Chicago deep-dish pizza. It was delicious and she was charming. I can totally see why he moved out there for her. After that we went out and partied a bit at some bars. Nothing was so remarkable about the way the bars were set up, but they were definitely crammed with some beautiful people. We didn’t have to pay for drinks either night that we were there because Max, of course, befriended bartenders and employees (and in one case a bar owner!).
I felt like a young person in Prague again. I was in a strange city that I knew very little about and so much of the experience kept unfolding before my eyes. As I was drunk and wandering the city both the first night and the second night I felt excited yet not menaced by my surroundings. The days after I had been out at night felt that much better. I think the initial feeling of being under whelmed when I got there was just because I hadn’t adjusted to the rhythm of the city yet. The same thing happened to me in Prague.
I feel as if I saw a lot in Chicago that I don’t see much at home. The city is just expansive and goes on for what seems forever. Lots and lots of diversity pulses throughout the streets and it is exciting and encouraging to know that opportunity has found its way into so many people’s lives. Not to say that poverty isn’t an issue, as there are a good amount of homeless people living on the streets of Chicago. This is a sad fact of big city life which is something that everyone no matter where they are needs to combat. Max even showed me some of the local street people whom he had developed a rapport with and helped them out when he could. Max felt at home away from home. I want that new excitement in my life again.
In my last hours in Prague I found myself continually joking around with Max about how I was just going to “work from home” in Chicago until my company fired me and ordered me to send my laptop back, in which time I would be able to find my own place to live and a job to sustain myself. Obviously not a well thought out or realistic plan, but the more I said it aloud the more melancholy yet determined I got. I thought, “could I do it?” So many voices have told me that there isn’t anything “out there” that isn’t right here at home. If I can’t make it here than how can I really make it anywhere else?
When I got home my mother text messaged me and told me I should move there. She said it would be nice to have someone to go visit out there. Then after a little while on the phone with my girlfriend she told me, in a truly touching way that she thought I should give Chicago a shot too. I didn’t even bring the idea up to her. She said she could hear it in my voice how excited I got just talking about the place and the feeling I got when I was there. She said she really thought I needed to start actively looking for jobs out there any applying.
I figure that I would need some time indeed to get my money situation in order enough to make a major move half way across the country. If I had a job waiting for me, that would make things significantly easier on me. But nothing is guaranteed. Caitlin thinks that in the time it would take me to apply and really sort out jobs I want and hear back from them I could save up some money and possibly even get an offer to be flown out for an interview. Who knows? Maybe I could even get a relocation allowance. Caitlin told me that a test like true distance and pursing our dreams could help us find out if “out there” is really what we want or if it is each other we want. We could even have both someday if we’re lucky.
I am fairly certain that after some time spent at my current job getting experience and possibly being promoted or learning a acquiring a lot more skills, I will feel truly compelled to make my move. A co-worker is leaving for Colorado at the end of the month on a whim to become excellent at snowboarding and just live the life of a young person for a little while. She really got me thinking when I found out she was doing that.
Grad school there? Grad School here? Grad School then? Grad School when? I’ve got to figure out something to do until Grad School!