March 26, 2015

Eight Years Ago This Month....

Sunset over 64th & Pulaski
...things leading up to the move were a blur: so much so that I don't recall what happened in what order.

With my impending move from St. Louis back to Chicago, I had left an extremely dysfunctional work environment. (One thing I don't miss about that time - daily cluster headaches). Packing, saying goodbye to friends, setting up the details of the move - all of these blurred into one continual experience. The one thing I do remember was the actual day of the move: my huge, loft-like apartment empty (only the "warp chamber"/support beam standing), Dax upset that her litter was moved (and that the carrier was out), and waitng for the movers - and my aunt - to contact me with next steps.

Remembering the day of the move feels more like a hallucinatory dream that an actual experience: heading down to Lambert Airport to pick up the van - then my aunt - for the one-way drive back to Chicago. Then meeting with the movers who emptied my apartment (and my storage locker in the basement) who would meet me a few days later. Packing the van, putting Dax in her carrier, and then heading down I-55 towards Chicago.

The drive itself was relatively uneventful - my aunt had offered to switch off, but I don't remember if we did or not. I do recall that, in listening to a Monkees CD (my aunt was a huge fan), Dax - who had been silent during the day - had begun crying up a storm during the first drum break of this song - ironically, just as we left Missouri proper:

After six hours, we arrived at Mom's house - at the time, she lived in a large three bedroom apartment - the same one she and Dad had rented years ago. It had only been eight months since Dad's passing - there was still a sense of emptiness about the place, a lingering discomfort mostly due to its size. (Thankfully, Mom moved into a smaller one bedroom in a different neighborhood - one like the more pleasant neighborhoods in south St. Louis - two and a half years ago). Within moments she joined us in the van and we headed for my new apartment.

Ironically, it was only meant to be "temporary" - it was a rear two-bedroom unit behind a storefront on Pulaski. (Two shops - a dog groomer and an insurance agent - shared the front. The dog groomer is still there; the other storefront is a small travel agency). It was dark, hidden, but had some of the unique charms of my unit in Eugene, Oregon of all places - it felt more like a small house than an apartment. Granted, the view could be better (windows opened up to a small garage, and then an alley), but there was a nice, almost peaceful quality to the residence. It would take some time to adjust (especially for Dax - it wasn't as large as the St. Louis apartment, and was more cramped due to lack of storage space.

That initial year-and-a-half was full of challenges - finding a job within a near-depression, lack of state funding meant very little in the nonprofit space....but through determination and hard work (especially starting with Net Tuesday, where I found my "tribe", as it were), I managed to squeeze out some temporary jobs, followed by being hired (through assertive networking) as a freelance agency analyst.

Since then, life has been pretty interesting....rebuilding something of a social/dating life (something I did far more frequently than in St. Louis), Dax's passing two years ago, various career changes, and eventually the decision to form my own consultancy. (In between, keeping my civic engagement high, moving from Net Tuesday to both nerdy board member and unofficial Doctor Who social chair). My life right now is full of promise...

....and something which, even at the time, I couldn't say about the move. In many ways, Chicago's internal conversations parallel those of St. Louis' - the ever present "why can't we be a great city again?" conversation lingers. But unlike St. Louis, Chicago seems to be more willing to look inside and deal with much tougher issues. In all honesty, part of me wished I could help my St. Louis friends during the Ferguson crisis, but now I'm feeling as if my transition is somehow complete: I've been more involved in local matters, have my own collection of friends, and feel a bit settled in my 'transition' apartment.

And to think it only took me eight years....

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