Sunday, June 16, 2013

Countdown to 30: {Places I've called Home}

I'm 12 6 days away from a big birthday. I'm actually totally ok with turning 30, and have a feeling my 30's are going to be a pretty fabulous decade. But I sure did have fun in my 20's, regardless of the stress and trials that come with figuring out who you are. I figured I'd do a little series about what my 20's were all about, for a fun little trip down memory lane. 

As was the case with my first two decades, I made sure to keep moving during the third decade of my life. Really I did settle down for the second half of my 20's but I can still claim two states, three cities, and 8 apartments during that time. Each of these places helped form me into the person I've become, and I'll take a bit of them with me as I continue through life.

My 20's started in Columbia, Missouri, where I went to college at the University of Missouri. Those four years were the most formative of my life, and I made some lifelong friends. I only lived in Columbia until I was 22, but I can say that is the city where I met some of my best friends, and also where I met my husband. College truly was where I started to become the person that I am today. Oh, Columbia, I still miss you all these years later!

Best Friends and Roommates, at the end of Senior Year

This was a football game senior year, which means we'd been dating for a month at the most.
I don't know if either of us would have believed the story of where we've been since then!

All but one of these people were my roommates at one point or another
during college, and I'd still call each of them among my best friends.
We don't all talk as much these days, but I'd drop everything in an instant if
one of them needed me.  Thank God I thought I wanted to be a journalist as a
freshman, or I never would have met them!
These are the people that made Columbia "home".

All too quickly, graduation day arrived and we all had to go out into the real world. I'd been dating a cute guy named Joe for a few months at this point, and we both casually agreed that we might be interested in living in Kansas City after graduation. Thankfully, we both found jobs and apartments, and made the move (separately, we swore!) to Kansas City. That didn't last too long, and by the middle of my 22nd year, we were engaged. 

Kansas City was a weird time in our lives. In some ways, it was so so good. Joe and I decided we wanted to spend our lives together while living in KC, and ended up having our wedding at the beautiful Catholic Cathedral downtown. We both started our professional lives there, even if we've both transitioned into completely different careers at this point. We made some good friends, and had some fantastic, memorable nights out. 

In the end, though, Kansas City didn't really "fit" us. We didn't have much family in the area, and did not feel the draw to settling down in the suburbs, as many of our friends were starting to do. We wanted a bigger city, full of people, events, and adventure. We didn't hate Kansas City, but feared it would get to that point if we didn't make a move sometime soon. We started looking for jobs, trusting our guts and hoping it would all work out. 

My first few races were in Kansas City, back when I swore I hated running.

Post-dinner party at our first apartment.

When we were first dating, Joe and I took a trip to Chicago and were completely charmed by the Windy City. We had a few friends in the area, and Joe's parents were about 90 minutes outside of the city.  It felt like the perfect place to begin the next chapter in our lives. In April 2007, a few months after our wedding, Joe accepted a new job and moved northeast. I followed about six weeks later, and we began our love affair with Chicago.

I could go on and on about our time in Chicago-- but the last few years of this blog have done just that. I'll just say this... at this point in our lives, Chicago is home. From age 24 to 30, I've soaked up the busy streets, friendly people, great food, and community feeling of this city. I'm not sure I'm willing to put down roots here forever; but I'm not really sure there is anywhere that I'll be able to say that about. But it has been home to me, and a great home at that. My 20's have been a FUN time in my life, and I won't every look back on Chicago and not remember all these good times!

Our original neighborhood in Andersonville.

Our first home-- a condo on Chicago's north side.

We connected with this crew of Mizzou friends at the beginning of our time
in Chicago, and have called them good friends every since.
I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live in the same place for your whole life. It would be nice to know your neighbors for years, and to feel so rooted in your community. But I love my slightly nomadic life, even if we've managed to settle down for the last few years. I hope the next decade gives me the opportunity to call a couple more cities home... who knows where we'll end up! New York, London, Los Angeles? Maybe somewhere in Ohio? Ha! Just kidding, I do know a few places where I will NOT end up!