on a note of wonder

Hello from Chicago, where I already have internet, because every unit in my building comes with a modem already set up, in the coat closet, installed into a cutaway in the wall. And all you have to do is call a very nice guy named Patrick who flips a switch remotely and boom, you're up and running instantly. My building also has a door person at the front desk 24/7, and two gyms. One has regular equipment including a kinetic treadmill and a dedicated yoga/mediation room with a huge touchscreen monitor on the wall where you can select from different programs to follow. The other is just CrossFit equipment, including some kind of terrifying swing thing that I will not be touching. 

There's also an enclosed rooftop terrace with sofas and lounge chairs, a rec/game room with a TV that must be eight feet wide and six feet high, foosball, a pool table, a giant wall-mounted scrabble board, and a wet bar so you can host parties. There's a coworking space with a printer and scanner, a two-room mailroom where packages are sorted by floor and tenants have 24/7 access to retrieve their things, and some other stuff I can't remember because because I'm on 3 hours sleep. And it was plane sleep, which means it was more like 1.5 hours sleep.

Oh that's right - the trash chute. There's one for trash and one for recycling. There's a recycling chute in my building. 

The past 24 hours have been unreal. Just before my flight last night I realized that the only way I can describe it is as an out of body experience. It's the closest I've come to having one, and now I think I have some vague idea of what that must be like. From the time I was finally done with everything and ready to go to the airport, I started shaking like a leaf. I don't even know why. But I had to leave. I couldn't just sit there, even though my flight was still hours off. When it was finally wheels up and I saw LA's glittering lights below me, slowly moving behind me, I can't explain the feeling I had. It just felt like one of the biggest moments of my life, if not the biggest. So big that I couldn't process it, so I just had to watch it happening to me, rather than fully experience it myself.

You have to understand how much of my life happened in LA. Divorce. My mom dying. My dad dying. My brother dying. Chaucer dying. Going broke, then coming into a lot of money--repeatedly. The absolutely fucking epic friendships born there. The roller coasters that were my romantic relationships. 11 years of incredibly high highs and devastating lows, all through which I more or less stumbled. More or less just existed. But now, for the first time in my life, I am making deliberate, strong choices about what I want. The work I want to do. The climate I want to live in. Last night when I set foot on the plane, it was me setting the terms of my life, with a sense of freedom so pure it's like a drug. 

It is intoxicating.

Had a quick layover in Charlotte, which was worth it just for the incredible sunrise I saw breaking over the horizon (in my IG story). Then wheels down in Chicago around 11am. 

My place is about what I expected. Maybe a little smaller. But I am literally right downtown, a fifteen minute walk to my work and the heart of the city. It's truly a walker's paradise. After I toured the property and collected my packages, I headed out to wander a bit while there was still light. My phone was on half battery, so I gave myself until either I hit 20% or lost the light entirely before I headed home. Come to it, I could always duck in a Starbucks and charge my phone, but I didn't want to mess with getting turned around in the dark and the cold, with no battery to navigate home, on 3 hours sleep. 

I only had an hour, so I just walked the tiniest section of the city. But it's even better than I imagined. It's been decades since I set foot in Chicago. To my ten year old self, it was huge and bustling and intimidating. Now it is perfectly sized, bustling, and just so beautiful. 

If I had to live anywhere in LA, downtown was where I wanted to be. Born in a small town, big cities are magical and exciting to me; they've never lost their charm and character. And so I thought it was pretty cool to get to regularly walk the historical streets of DTLA, see those amazing buildings. But Chicago is a whole other level. It's immaculate compared to LA. Just immaculate. And there's so much more to see, so many more incredible structures. It's jaw-droppingly cool. The el blows my mind. It's all just so pretty and romantic I can barely handle it. I can't believe I get to live and work here. I kept thinking that over and over. I can't believe I get to be here.

Everyone has been so worried about how the cold was going to hit me. I think there's been a lot of projection with that; people who themselves wouldn't want or like the cold projecting onto me how they'd feel. Well, I fucking love it. The minute it hit me when I walked out of the airport, a huge smile crossed my face. You have to remember: I have three decades worth of hatred for Arizona and California fueling my desire to escape the heat and sun. And I know January and February will be even colder, but I was perfectly fine today. I'm not dumb, I know how to dress for the weather. Uniqlo thermals are a lifesaver. And it was such a joy to actually get to wear a parka today. 

My cheeks and ears were a little icy because I went exploring without a hat or scarf, but my body was fine under my layers. And while yes I know LA happens to be having a cold snap right now, the norm is that Thanksgiving and even Christmas are always ridiculously warm. I was just straight grinning today, as I wandered around. It's cold here. It's December and it's cold here. It was snowing (slightly) when I landed. That is how it is supposed to be. And I love it. I am a fish in water, finally

I did learn very quickly that fingerless gloves are not going to cut it here, at least not right now. So I dipped into Nordstrom Rack and bought some shearling ones. Problem solved. 

My apartment itself is totally comfortable. I haven't touched the thermostat yet. I don't know if it's that I'm so high up, or it's a really well insulated building, or that the building across blocks the wind--but I was sure my apartment was going to be frigid. And it may be so later, but right now it doesn't feel any different than my LA place. 

Looking forward to walking to the lake tomorrow. Will probably get pretty emotional staring out directly east, to the town in Michigan where I was born. Sometime I want to rent a car and go see my childhood streets. It's only an hour away.

That's all I've got for now. I can barely keep my eyes open. My wee mattress and blankets were here waiting for me, and I packed my little personal heater in case I get chilly, so I'm going to be snug as a bug in a rug when I pass out here soon. I told someone earlier that it really hasn't even hit me yet, because I'm so exhausted. It's like my happiness is in a waiting room for the moment until I get some rest and stabilize. Then I'll get to really experience it.

And so to bed, ending Day 1 on a note of wonder and very, very sleepy gratitude.