Chapter 2: Leave It In The Past

They say everything that you’ve experienced until now define who you are at this moment. This is true. I am the sum of all my experience.

Exactly this time 6 years ago, I was 23 and I visited Chicago for the first time with a few of my best friends. It was one of the best experiences of my life. It was love at first sight. I felt differently in that city. It was one of those self defining moments.

About 2 months later, I packed up what I could and moved off to that big city. Prior to this move, I had met a boy in Vegas who was from Chicago. He was one of those people who enter your life for a reason, but quickly leave. I thank him for that and that is where I will end that story.

I was 23 and bright-eyed. I had already graduated college, moved back home, and quit at my first attempt to get into dental school. When I was younger, I have always had this need to leave home. I blamed the environment for all of my misfortunes and things I never achieved. I felt I was being constricted, especially by my family, whom only wanted me to be happy and see me succeed. I was young and immature. I was trapped by the barriers that I created myself. I took a huge risk and followed my heart. I made one of the best decisions of my life.

I did some crucial planning, some major convincing, and I found a flat on craigslist and moved to Chicago. I knew one person in the city but had no fear of living a life of solitude. I was Michelle, the life of the party, had a ton of friends, and a loud personality. The fact that I was alone in a big city and knew that no one knew anything about me was thrilling to me. It was me, the city, and the El. The scenery, the seasons, the food, the people, the skyscrapers, the hustle and bustle, it was perfect. I felt like the person I finally wanted to be.

It was a rocky start, Chicago slowly chewed me up and spit me out. The girl who needed attention was quickly missing the people she left behind. At this point, I needed to figure out what direction my life was headed. It was rocky, it flattened out, then hit a plateau.

I lived in Chicago for two years. I remember the day I left like it was yesterday. My friend Chris had dropped me off at the airport and as we said goodbye, the waterfall of tears started and did not stop till I got off the plane.

I had to break up with my first true love. It was devastating. But it was a time in my life that I had to do what was best for me. We loved each other very much, but at this point, love wasn’t enough. The city left me with an experience I will never forget. I only knew one person when I moved there but left a family behind. The city molded me into who I am today. Chicago will always remind me of the beginning of adulthood. The neighborhoods, the streets, the “beach,” every part of that city will have a specific significance in my life. I was free.

meatball

My one and only friend when I moved to the city. Stephanie aka “meatball” We loved Jersey Shore…smh Headed to Lou Malnatis after a heavily night of drinking. I threw up the night before and she threw up after eating that deep dish pizza. What were we thinking? 
Today, Stephanie is now sober from drugs and alcohol. I am so proud to be one of the first people to start that journey with her. I’m so thankful to have met her. A wonderful soul whom I am nothing without. Thank you for being you. 

chitownfam

My last backyard party with my family I left behind. I’m the life of the party again. I think this where my love for giving toasts began. These are some of the best people I know. Our favorite past time was drinking Jameson and I think this was my first pickle back? I went from not drinking dark liquor to it being my main food group. I miss these people dearly. Thank you for taking me into your life and deteriorating my liver. I love you.

If we we’re meant to stay in one place, we would have roots instead of feet, he said. -Rachel Wolchin

I love you Chicago. Thank you for the best two years of my life. 

-Meesh