There's something very special about the season of life when we first see ourselves as adults. Sure, there are often some turbulent years of slowly gaining independence and beginning to envision ourselves as grown-ups. But sooner or later, we have to take a leap of faith, and begin living as completely self-sufficient individuals, and that is significant.
For me, there is a specific place where that transformation took place: Chicago, Illinois. Upon graduating from college, I accepted an offer for the job of my dreams in the heart of that city, and moved there all by myself. I bought life insurance, found a dentist, and invested in 401K accounts. I made friends, learned to ride public transportation, and bought myself my first car.
After a few years, I met and married my husband, thus ending my time of single adulthood. Shortly after, we moved to faraway Seattle, started a family, and began a new chapter in my life.
So that is why it's nostalgic and emotionally gratifying for me to return to Chicago, as I did this week. I was only passing through - I flew into O'Hare Field, rented a car, then drove past downtown and out the south side of the city toward my home state of Michigan. Just a few hours, but I saw enough sights to stir up memories of my solo trips to the airport, my daily commute via train and subway to the Loop, and the road trips I would take out of the city back to my hometown for special weekends and holidays. I felt again the heady rush of accomplishment that I often experienced, back in the day, when I realized that I had conquered this city and proved that I could make it, after all.
And I also felt, as I often did back then, the mad desire to spin around in a circle and toss my beret up into the air. If you've ever seen the opening sequence of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, then you know exactly what I mean.