According to the calendar, Spring 2016 officially began on March 20. It never got warmer than 45* that day; the low was 33* (just one degree above freezing!). With few exceptions, the weather has stayed much the same in Chicago as the season rolls on. Early in April, one weekend saw an entire day of snow, sun, clouds, rain, snow and sun again, switching back and forth every 20 minutes or so. Don’t take my word for it: the internet made sure to capture it.
And yet, signs of life have peeked through the chill here and there, a day with no clouds or temps blissfully above 60*. And in this city, any sign of warm weather and sunshine, however fleeting, is welcomed with open arms. In just these few short weeks, outdoor patios have begun popping up at cafes and coffee shops, restaurants and bars alike. Baseball season is in full swing and farmer’s markets have returned in every neighborhood.
It’s done something amazing for me, too. It’s hard to be terribly active in the city when you’re facing freezing temps and 20 hours of darkness (or at least what feels like it!). After the cold, dark winter, these glimmers of summer-future are buoying my spirits in ways I hadn’t realized I was missing. I’m opening windows and reveling in the breeze. I’m switching out my closet, pushing the heavy winter clothes to the back and rediscovering the dresses and tops I haven’t seen in months. And sandals! I even indulged in a pedicure last week to get my feet ready for sandal season.
The promising weather has me anticipating anew some wonderful Chicago adventures, too. I’m more determined than ever – as I think the whole city is at this time of year – to soak up the sun and explore new corners of my hometown at its best. I’m still compiling my longer lists, so perhaps I’ll expand this post and my previous Chicago Lists sometime soon (I’ve managed to check off a lot on them anyways!). But until then, I can say I’m looking forward to new theater, new restaurants, new classes and so much more.
This first year back in Illinois has been a bumpy one in a lot of ways. I missed New York so much I got a freaking tattoo to remind me of it (which doesn’t look like that anymore, but still)! But something interesting happened in the last few weeks, something as surprising (and as welcome!) as the hints of sun and warm weather. In the last few weeks, I chose Chicago.
I choose Chicago.
Those three words are nothing special, but they’ve shifted my entire paradigm in unexpected ways. And I wish I could say they came about in some flash of clarity, some lightning bolt of inspiration. Instead, it was more gradual, the simple (and obvious?) realization that life isn’t what happens next or where we’re headed, but life is now. Right here. And bumpy as it’s been, this year has been filled with family and friends and all the right kind of priorities that, one day quite out of the blue, changed my whole outlook. Would I love to get back to NYC? Would I love to chase some high-flying film career? Sure. Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t think so. I’d rather be able to zip away for a weekend with my best friends, or host my mom overnight when she has a conference in the city. I’d rather be able to see both sides of my family on holidays, and build a circle of old and new friends right here.
So as the weather improves, so do my spirits. Change is in the air, and good things are to come. Right here in Chicago.