My parents moved from the Chicago suburbs on Halloween. They drove over 3 days across the country (which I volunteered to come, but they wanted me to focus on work), transporting whatever possessions they have left, and arrived at their new home in Corona, California where they had intended to retire.
It’s late November now, and it’s weird to come back to Chicago knowing that I no longer have concrete ties anchoring me to Illinois, a state I’ve called home for the past 32 years. I drove back with my friend Brett, and I found it both unsettling and relieving that I’m coming back to Illinois without that feeling of being obligated to see my parents. On one hand, I have total freedom now that my parents are no longer expecting me to come home at a certain time; I can drink, I can smoke cigarettes, I can stay out late without the hesitation of my mom and dad worrying about me (yes, even as an adult). On the other hand, I’ll no longer visit the house I grew up in. I’ll no longer take my dog to the open fields of DuPage county’s forest preserves. I’ll no longer come home and wait for my Illinois friends to call, nor expect my parents to come welcome me with loving arms and a deep dish pizza, in the house that my mom lit potpourri and candles in. It’s sad, in a way, that those same attachments and comforts I’ve grown accustomed to are now reduced to memories.
I came back to Illinois to see my friend Dawn get married (she helped me adopt Nico at the Humane Society while we were both attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). I stayed at my friend’s condo in Chicago, where I was able to reconnect with old friends (Erick) and newer friends who’ve lived in NYC but had since moved back (Mike). It was great to see so many familiar faces and hangouts, but all I can feel is the change: a transition from childhood and everything that had shaped my character, to a new life of independence and deepening nostalgia.