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All Roads Lead to Brooklyn

(Photo: There’s no place like home. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory.)

“It all started way back in April of 2003. I had moved to Chicago to get over NYC’s post-9/11 angst.”
October 26, 2005

“Cars and I don’t mix well. I can barely get into and out of one without injuring myself or the car. Sometimes both. I was raised on the subway.”
November 1, 2005

“I’ve never ever been able to identify the moment when the idea to actually tear myself away from NYC and move across country actually happened. One day I knew the decision had been made and, utterly, I no longer had a choice in the matter.”
May 18, 2006

“After 9/11, life in New York City — mine, anyway — never recovered, and heading to the urban capital of middle America seemed like a good idea at the time. “
July 3, 2006

“I went to Chicago to find an apartment, and found a friend to drive whatever possessions of mine would fit into an SUV across the five state lines between here and there. And I never looked back.”
August 24, 2006

“You can’t go home again, nor, necessarily, should you. I know if I ever did return to New York, no amount of therapy in the world would be able to prevent me from falling back into my own old box of fear.”
July 7, 2006

“I watched the wide and endless Midwestern grid of small towns and farms spread flat below, broken eventually by the comforting, massive sweep of the inland sea of Lake Michigan, and, finally, the appearance of the only skyline I’ve known for four years.”
November 19, 2006

“Spiritual awakenings take by surprise reluctant souls and lead them on unexpected journeys. For reluctant souls, any spiritual journey at all is, by definition, an extraordinarily, very, very unexpected one.”
January 2, 2007

“And time passes and you lose touch with people who you know to this day were among the most important influences on your life. Ten days ago, a Gay and Lesbian Youth of New York alum started searching for former members. Yesterday, I got an email…It was all I could do not to sob in front of my colleagues.”
March 31, 2007

“For the first time in four years, I have begun to reconsider my decision to leave New York. I deeply love Chicago. But I wonder whether I would have left NYC if these wonderful, (on the same level as) familial connections had still been available to me in 2003…God is in this. I’m sure of it. As sure as I am that, unlike before, at certain miraculous times, indeed, you can go home again.”
April 11, 2007

“The day before I came to New York for what accidentally turned out to be this GLYNY reunion, I was happy. I was content in my life, secure in myself, and did not feel alone or unjoyful in the slightest. I return to Chicago knowing the lie in that. I return feeling completed, feeling whole, for the first time since I can remember. And it is you, my brothers and sisters, who complete me. I have no recollection of mourning your absence. Yet, after a few short days spent variously in your company, I cannot imagine my life moving forward without you…I look forward to spending the rest of my life with you in it.”
April 18, 2007

Time moves on and so do we, frequently in the most unexpected of directions. Sometimes we know exactly why we choose the paths that we take. Sometimes we just go on faith. Four years ago, the latter inspiration guided me to one of the greatest cities in America. Now, the same inspiration leads me back to another.

Some pulls in life prove irresistible–love, amity, origin. You can answer their call, or ignore them and bet that you won’t regret the decision for the rest of your life. I am not a betting man. This summer, with an indescribably reluctant heart but an enormous faith in the future, I’m leaving Chicago. As has been my way, I suppose I’ll use the final two months of Chicago Carless to help me make some sense of this new detour in my life.

On July 1, with Devyn in tow, and with his blessing and collaboration, I will return home to New York City. Not because it’s New York City. Not at all because of that. But simply because of one reason of which my life has just in no uncertain terms reminded me.

Because it’s my home.

Categories: Adventure Backstory

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Mike Doyle

I’m an #OpenlyAutistic gay, Hispanic, urbanist, Disney World fan, New York native, politically independent, Jewish blogger in Chicago. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I write words and raise money for nonprofits. I’ve written this blog since 2005. And counting...

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20 replies

  1. Right of Return

    (Photo: Stick pre-kindergarten me and my grandmother in this picture and you’ve got every weekend jaunt we ever took into Manhattan from Queens in the early 1970s. Credit: NYC Subway Resources/Doug Grotjahn & Joe Testagrose.) A few weeks ago,…

  2. The Taste for Old Times’ Sake

    (Photo: Who doesn’t love eating over a garbage can and peeing in a porta-potty?) My last Taste of Chicago (God-willing) was definitely the best. Protest though I did last year about Chicagoans’ proclivity to attend the Taste year after…

  3. Faith

    (Photo: How do you picture all that is? Credit: Omnos.) These are, perhaps, the most unexpected words I will ever write in my life. Tonight, I came to believe in God. I’ve always had a vague sense of the…

  4. Sharpe as Attack

    Impending moves breed future-flavored angst. Such it is with my upcoming move back home to New York City–how exactly does one say goodbye to a city as wondrous as Chicago? (No, really, if anyone knows I’m dying to know,…

  5. Everything’s Different Now

    (Photo: Finding patterns in shadows on the path.) I get by with a little help from my friends. Wednesday night, sitting with my fellow GLYNY alums Peter and Barbara at the bar at Philip Marie in the West Village,…

  6. Hoard of Plenty

    (Photo: Memo to self, must gather nuts, must gather nuts…) Over a plate of drunken noodles is a very strange place to have an epiphany. But yesterday was no ordinary day, so I didn’t argue. In Washington, tucked in…

  7. And Then There Was One

    With great sadness, I find myself in a position to edit my previous post. While my move to New York City may continue (I sincerely hope it does), my relationship with Devyn will not. After two years of effort forged…

  8. I can definitely relate. After four years, I also feel the tug back to Chicago, but our roots are now well planted in Montréal. Although many of my friends and family have moved away, it is the familiarity of that city’s character and life that call me. I’ll just have get along on our annual trips back.

    Best of luck in NYC. Conversely, my appreciation for the city has been growing since 2001. A realization that it is more a larger sibling than an arrogant older relative. I look forward to seeing Devyn’s take on that city also.

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