Love Phoenix AND Leave Phoenix

Twenty-two years ago I was making my way to Arizona. A pimple-faced kid fresh out of high school, nervous but mostly excited about the life that lay ahead.

On this trip I caravanned with my parents, they in their family van and I in my sporty new Honda Civic. I remember gunning it to 100 and zipping past them in stretches near Palm Springs, just to see what it would feel like (and maybe also to see what they might say).

Today I’m on the road again, making my way out of town, away from the place I’ve called home for more than half my life. Leaving Arizona. This time, I’m the one driving the family van, and not nearly as fast as that Civic. I’ll tell you it’s because I’m pulling a 4×8 U-Haul trailer. But on a deeper level, it’s because I’m so very reluctant to leave.

“Aren’t you excited to go to Chicago?” people ask. That’s a loaded question.

Right now, I’m more stressed than excited. Moving is one of the most stressful things a person can endure in his lifetime. Ask any psychiatrist. Having your entire life wrapped in cellophane, packed into boxes and stuffed onto a tractor-trailer? Stressful.

Right now, I’m more anxious than excited. I do not like change. Never have, probably never will. I get anxious when someone beats me to my favorite parking spot at work. I don’t have to tell you what kind of next-level anxiety this relocation is evoking.

Right now, I’m more heartbroken than excited. I’ve always kind of tolerated Arizona through the years. (Maybe taken it for granted?) It was a place to be. The possibility of moving had me start to realize my true feelings, and then the reality of moving to galvanize them. Best I can describe, I’m in mourning. My insides ache, the way you feel gut-punched after a nasty breakup.

Say what you will about the heat. Or the “wild west.” Or the politics. I love it here. Arizona is home. And it’s with a heavy heart that I leave it.

But …

That’s not the end of the story.

Just like people in mourning, after this move I’ll deal and I’ll heal. I have every reason to expect that someday, maybe soon, I WILL be excited to be in Chicago. Exciting things await me there.

Soon, I’ll be excited to push my personal and professional boundaries. Chicago offers a career opportunity I was likely not to get in Phoenix. It’s a rare chance for me to lead and innovate and shape the direction of a growing team.

Soon, I’ll be excited to experience seasons. Chicago has a winter, a spring, a summer and a fall. Imagine! I’ve lived in Southern California and Arizona just about all my life. I don’t know what weather is. All that ends very soon for me and my family. The kids will know what it’s like to dive into a big ol’ pile of leaves and build a snowman and use an umbrella.

Soon, I’ll be excited to run. Chicago, from what I gather, has an incredible running community. In two days after posting a plea for winter running advice on Facebook, I received 102 (mostly) well-meaning and constructive comments, plus an invitation to a holiday party. I’ve been asked to join a charity running team, which I’m seriously considering. I can’t wait to sign up for the many races around Chicagoland.

Soon, I’ll be excited to explore. Chicago has an incredible community, period. Winter weather aside, I’ve heard very little negative commentary on the place. The people, the culture and the history top the list of attributes.

Twenty-two years is a long time to live in a place. Today, it’s time to go, ready or not. Here’s to getting past the stress, the anxiety and the heartbreak—sooner rather than later—and into the excitement.

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