My husband and I sold our suburban Chicago home and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona nearly a year ago. We hadn’t been back to the Windy City. Until last week, that is.
I’ll admit it. I was anxious about the trip. Primarily because I had encountered and survived a health scare on the way west. The experience changed and shook me to such a degree. I just wasn’t sure what it would feel like to spend a week in Illinois again. So much of my time in the past twelve months has been devoted to getting well, building a new life in the desert southwest, and reflecting on my previous home in Mount Prospect. (Incidentally, all of that led me to draft, reconfigure, rewrite, complete and publish my latest book, An Unobstructed View, a few weeks before my return to the Midwest.)
Naturally, I needed and wanted to see and hug loved ones again, who still live in the Land of Lincoln: my younger son, my sister, my sister-in-law. Not to mention close friends and neighbors. All of them kind. Concerned about our welfare. But living far away from us now. Seventeen hundred miles east. They were the impetus and motivation for our return. I knew that being with them again and feeling their love would remind me just how deep my Illinois roots still run. That I would always hold a special place in my heart for my thirty-seven years living in the Chicago area. Just as I do for the first two decades of my life in Missouri.
Anyway, last week, I felt the Illinois love again … without all the responsibilities of jobs and homeownership of my previous Illinois existence. Though we didn’t have the time to visit with everyone we wanted to see, our first trip back included the moments that mattered most: relaxing days and nights with friends in our old Mount Prospect neighborhood; a surprise invitation from the new owners of our previous home to step in and admire their freshly painted interior; quiet meals in the suburbs with our sisters and a dear friend who officiated our wedding; a musical evening in Chicago at St. James Cathedral watching and listening to our Windy City Performing Arts friends perform “My Life: A Mixtape”; a Father’s Day brunch on the north side with my son that extended into a fun afternoon of World Cup watching; and dinner with a close friend along the Chicago River on our last night in town.
That final stop is where my husband captured this photo of me. Watching the water traffic float by. Admiring the vibrant city that used to be my home.
Now the circle is complete.