I was fascinated by Chicago throughout my few college years, and even quit school to pursue my goals of combining the music industry with the budding web industry. I did pretty well with said goal, even considering I barely made enough money to live on.
I think I spent just under two years actually living and working in Chicago before moving out to San Francisco. So by that math, I've been on the west coast 7 times longer than my residence in the Windy City.
So why did I feel so many ghosts when I was back there for a mere 24 hours? How could I still remember the street names and buildings of those I had dated, point out the grocery stores where I did the most mundane of errands, still keep the L Map in my head like a tattoo? Oh sure, plenty had changed without me: the new Millennium park was amazing with its reflective bean, hipster bars abounded and men with luscious beards tended them, the corn cob buildings were gone, etc. But the ghosts still raised all the hair on my arms when a set of glass doors slid open at the Field Museum and I was transported back to a drunken curiosity when they did the same at 3am.
("We swear," we slurred to the security guard. "We did not think that was going to happen, we just wanted to put our noses on the glass and look at the T-Rex.")
I am glad to have had Topher with me, whose naturally adventurous mindset took me to some new neighborhoods and restaurants, places with no history for me, so that my brain didn't get stuck in the skipping "what ifs" and "what ever happened tos". But even with the size of that city, it was inevitable I'd end up on a recognizable sidewalk, mentally flooded, and dumb.
Maybe I can't ever move back. I'm scared I'd get stuck as my young adult self, hungry for experiences, desperate for respect, always feeling like I was fighting something. Whereas now, home, there is a sense of enlightenment in my being, that I can grow and be content at the same time.
And hey, besides, the weather is better here.