Dear Chicago: A love letter.
I am sorry. I am sorry for what I am about to say to you. Please, do not take it the wrong way. It's me, not you.
I spent twenty-six years living in your shadow, and seven of the greatest years of my life living inside your walls. I am sorry if I ever took you for granted. Although I know I never meant to, it would break my heart if you ever felt I did. I find it impossible to explain how you, more than anyone or anything in my life, shaped me into who I am at this very moment. Can I ever have a long enough moment to re-live all the memories I have because of you?
I have used you as a trophy in my life. I have been so proud to know you. I have held the knowledge of your trains, buses, streets and people so high in my life. I valued the time we spent together knowing I was the luckiest man in the city.
The entire year I spent watching your sun rise from the seat of my bike... Those mornings, the silent ride from Lincoln-Park to Evanston, are a tattoo on my soul that I will never remove. The miles and miles we shared on your lake shore, whether crowded in summer or those winter days when few knew of the beauty you held in ice and emptiness...
I hold tight the memories of the nights showered in your street lights. The countless, almost endless, string of walks...some intoxicated, others dangerously sober...with friends, lovers and alone, where the buzz of the night never fully leaves your skin.
The four consecutive years spent playing volleyball where your skyline was always one small head turn away... It was there that I got back on my feet again. It was you that picked me up after heartbreak. It was the people you held in your walls that showed me just how great you are. It was your endless supply of beautiful women that showed me how to walk again.
Many know just how great you are. And I know. I am just a baby living in your hands. But please know I will forever call you mine, and I will always be one of yours. Your buildings will always be mine, your lake, your teams, and your people will always be mine.
But you need to know this: I am leaving. Despite all the love I have for you, despite how tight I hold onto the memories I have with you, I am tired of you. Please do not take this the wrong way, but you are who you are. I need something more, something different. Do not worry. I am not moving on to another city. I am moving to the opposite of what you are. I long for mountain ranges instead of skyscrapers. I want long mornings spent running and cycling on single-track, not crowded pavement. I am trading in the hustle & bustle for breathing room. I want to spend winter even more active than summer. Winters will be spent enjoying the snow and ice, instead of hibernating and suffering in it.
I could write a million words about how great you are. About your architecture, your lake. How your summers are second to none. Your food, your music scene. Your bars and all the people that love you more than I do. But I won't waste your time. Just know that I will always love you.