The first week of April 2005, I packed (some of) my earthly belongings into my Ford Escort and drove west, alone.  I was 23, had recently graduated from Penn State with a BA in theater, and was eager to start working in a theater city more welcoming than what I perceived New York to be.  Plus, I had a friend from high school looking for a roommate.

The drive was a breeze.  Quite literally breezy, as I bound through Ohio and Indiana, windows down, with my carefully crafted mix CD blasting as I sang along.  I made excellent time.  It was the last 30 minutes of the journey – the endless construction outside Gary, the Skyway, 90/94, my first left turn on red through a six-point intersection – that really challenged me.  I parked just north of Fullerton on my new street in Lincoln Park.  I had moved to Chicago.

And ten years later, I’m staring down my last two months here.  My family – husband Scott, toddler, and growing baby belly – are moving to Pittsburgh in July.  My husband and I grew up there, and our families still live there.  We hesitate, though, to say that we’re moving ‘back,’ because the last time either of us lived there for any stretch of time, we were graduating high school and getting the hell out, like most people we knew.  I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I’m sad to leave Chicago.  The calendar is mocking me as I sit and think of all the things I’d like to do over the next seven (seven!?!) weeks.  I’m emotional thinking about it.  It’s going to be really really hard.

Sitting in that sadness isn’t doing me any good, though, and I truly have so much waiting for me in the Burgh.  The family that I’ve missed for 10 years in Chicago plus four more in Happy Valley, my in-laws’ beautiful home, back yard, and covered porch, new experiences and relationships with and for my daughter and bebe to be.  I’ve been tallying a pretty scattered mental list of the things I’m gratefully looking forward to, partly to temper all of the loss I feel.  Some of them are here.

A Bigger Bed

Seeing as how I moved (some of) my earthly belongings three states away in a compact four-door sedan, you can imagine I didn’t have room for much furniture.  Any furniture, really.   I was moving into a gorgeous 2-story, furnished Lincoln Park apartment in a building owned by the older brother of a genius high school friend who’d recently moved out there himself after undergrad at MIT (…genius).  I didn’t know it yet, but this would be the nicest place I’d ever live in Chicago. (more…)

I’ve been thinking a lot. A lot. I’ve been thinking about motherhood and being a mommy and where I belong. When I think that my parents were younger than I am now when they had both me and my sister, I feel slightly reassured that, to some degree, all parents fake it. Because we have no idea what we’re doing. Well, we have some instincts, thank God, but otherwise, you try to love your baby and not lose your mind.

Since becoming a parent 16 months ago, my life has changed. My world, my work, my body, my relationships, all different now. (I’ve an ocean of thoughts about all of these differences, but perhaps for another day.) And certainly the way I’m perceived has changed – I can tell because of how I’ve been treated by people during the stages of my life, which, at this point in my parental mind warp, I can crudely divide into 4 wholly unequal parts: Pre-Parent, Pregnant, Mommying, Mommy Sans Banz*. And I think if I frame these stages through the lens of outside perception**, maybe I can corral a fraction of these thoughts. Or maybe not, but whatevs, here goes.

This is the longest stretch on the timeline, and I have the least to say about it because gurl, I have to save something for the memoirs. Happy child, bright student, messy parental divorce, socially awkward and painfully self-conscious, solo move to the second city. A part of me has always thought that I’m awesome. People probably perceived me as some mess of kind, nerdy, prudish, fun, stuck up, shy, careful.

I was just getting a massage, because my body is a wreck (and whatever, I don’t have to justify myself to you, dude), and I was thinking of what I’d write for Rational Creatures. Ah, yes, the Massage Table, where I get my critical thinking done. And the massage therapist, who incidentally is also a doula, remarked that women, during their first pregnancy, have a glow about them. I replied, Yes, a mix of excitement and terror. I was pregnant with my daughter for most of 2013 and my body was badass and did really well, really took to pregnancy. I could do this over and over, I thought (before I delivered). (more…)