I was born and raised in Southern California, so I’m spoiled when it comes to weather. I don’t like extremes. I complain about anything higher than 85 degrees and anything lower than 65 degrees. Rain is novel and splendid, but only for two days. Anything, longer than that is a little excessive, don’t you think?
It’s no surprise that summer in Chicago had me in a complete fit for weeks. It was horrid, sticky, and stormy and dear God, how do people function in this heat? I thought, I’ll just wait until the weather is nice and then we can go out. That didn’t work. The sticky and stormy would last for days and days with maybe one day of respite in between.
And now we are headed into the darkest days of winter. Somehow knowing this has sparked a better-get-the-fuck-out-there-and-enjoy-the-sun-while-you-can attitude in me. So, my miniature sidekick and I head out multiple times a week to explore our new city. Because soon we won’t be able to, or won’t want to, or will be too busy slowly going insane. We go to parks, museums, and libraries. We go and throw rocks in the lake or I just put him in the stroller and walk. It’s awesome. And it has become a habit. I don’t even think about it too much. We just get up, eat breakfast, and go out. Rain or shine, we go out and experience life outside our apartment in a way we never did in LA.
All this “going out” has induced a state of wonder in me, which has evolved into a deep appreciation for Chicago. And a little bit of regret for all the perfectly gorgeous LA days I spent indoors. I see pretty Instagram photos of Palm trees in Los Angeles and my heart aches a little. I never gave them a second thought before. I see friends dipping their baby’s toes in the ocean and I think, why didn’t I do more of that while I could? There is some pretty dang marvelous stuff all around. Though, I didn’t have to leave home in order to notice. All I had to do was open my eyes.
Complacency is a sneaky thing that settles in when you stop experiencing wonder. A few weeks ago, Judah and I wandered to North Pond—a little nature sanctuary just west of the lake. He stomped about along side me for a while and then stopped.
“Let’s see what’s over here,” I said, beckoning him to follow me onward.
“No, just want to look at the lake, Mama,” he replied.
Kids know all about wonder. But they don’t know the name for it because it’s just their constant state of being. It’s the way they move through life. They stop to examine trash on the sidewalk when you just want to get to the freaking store already. They want to splash in every puddle and touch everything because, wow!
If Chicago is special only because it is new then I am doomed to fall into complacency again. I think the challenge for me now is to find the “new” no matter where I am. Change has become so tangible that I realize things will always change. I may find myself in LA again. Or not. Perhaps, New York will call to us in the future. Or Austin. Or London. Or wherever.
It’s up to me to find things that make me say, wow – to find wonder in every day. Sure, autumn in Chicago makes it really easy. Though, looking back there were some really super things about its swampy summer. I just chose not to see them. And now that I’ve experienced our first Chicago snowfall, I’m positive winter holds some real life gems, as well.
Nothing is ordinary. You may have to turn it about, look at it from above and then below. But if you really try, you can see a glimmer of magic in something as mundane as a brick wall. You can pass by a thing a dozen times before you really see it and appreciate it.
I can honestly say I’m smitten with this city. I’ve even felt myself taking ownership of Chicago, like I really do live here (ahem… because I do). I still long for home. Yet, there is so much more to explore here and so much to fall in love with that I am grateful for this change and a lot less sullen about it. The other day I asked myself, what if I could just pack up and move back to LA? What if? In response, my heart whispered, No, not yet. I’m not ready. Let me just be here a little while longer, I thought. Let me just see what else there is to see. Because, wow!
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