I had made the decision way back in January, but as I sat in my apartment, waiting for the movers, it was hard to believe that it was going to soon be over...and that I would be moving back to Chicago.
Much of my decision back then was motivated by my mother's health - as a complication of her diabetes, she had developed non-alcoholic cirrhosis, and needed care. (My aunt - who would be arriving by plane that morning - had moved from downstate Illinois to help care for Mom). It was extremely difficult - the last major move had been in December 1998 from Eugene, Oregon, and was motivated primarily by wanting to escape the aftermath of a painful romantic breakup.
Since then, I had worked towards building a life in St. Louis - developing a great professional network, a strong network of friends (including pal Brian), and building a life. The kind of life I had always wanted - to move elsewhere, to develop my own life independent of my family, of old ties - in short, to become my own person in some McGoohan-esque way.
(Heck, I had even developed a good relationship with my local comic shop in St. Louis - when does that ever happen to a guy?)
But soon, I would be leaving it - boxes and furniture strewn across my large, I-can't-believe-I'm-getting-this-inexpensively apartment, my cat locked in my bedroom. After picking up my rented minivan - and my aunt from Lambert Airport - we waited for the movers to arrive. After packing up everything, my aunt and I began driving from my apartment, through downtown St. Louis, and headed home, my cat silent except to "sing along" to this tune. Eight hours later - after stopping to visit Mom - we headed for my new apartment, a modest two-bedroom behind some storefront businesses. (Originally built so that a family could live behind their business).
In the past year, things have been...well, mixed. I've depended mostly on the kindness of temporary employment (although I was able to join an organization similar to one I was involved with in St. Louis). I've caught up with old friends and touched base with new ones. Even got to meet some fellow bloggers - not just those visiting from own of town (yes, I'm talking about you, RF), but a group of local Chicago bloggers. It's been a tough year, and I'm not quite where I would like to be, but I'm getting there. But I realized that, although I love St. Louis - I had missed Chicago. Maybe this is a rebound/reconciliation, where I realize that I never knew how good I had it...or where I realize it can be better. But one step at a time, as some people would say.
The best lesson I've learned this past year - sometimes, life doesn't progress vertically, but horizontally.
And if you understand that...you're one up on me.