I learned a valuable adult lesson last week: you can’t go back. When I left Chicago for good, I didn’t have any kids, just a dog. And now, four years later, I’m married with two boys (and the dog still too). I used to play the ‘What If?’ game. Basically, ‘What If’ I had never left Chicago, would I be better off? Who would I be? What if I hadn't gotten pregnant, or married? I have realized that this is a pointless game. You can never go back, and furthermore, you wouldn’t want to. I see that the person I was then and the person I am now are completely different. I can see this even more while staying in my hometown. The last time I was here, ten years ago, I was just a reckless teenager desperate to leave my small town. Now, I’m a mom and that small town doesn’t look so bad, in fact parts of it are downright charming. It sure doesn't feel boring anymore. I read this fascinating article the other week about identity and sense of self. It describes this phenomenon that people can see how much they have changed; we no longer listen to the same music, we changed our major or job, etc, but they just cannot envision how they will change in the future. We still think we will be the same. Even though we can see past change, we are incapable of picturing future change.
When we got our tattoos a year ago (they look like this <<<) they were meant to mean, Matt, Charley and I, the three of us. And then I got pregnant again, unexpectedly. People ask if we will add another symbol. We say no, we will just change the meaning. Now I tell people it means, always move forward. I should add, and don't look back to that, but I think it's implied.
This is all to say that I am no longer desperate to live back in Chicago. I still love it there, but a part of me can see that you can only go forward. And from now on I am going forward as part of a family of four. And that is tied into every decision we make, making it even more difficult to pick a place.