So, we’re moving to Los Angeles. Not tomorrow, not necessarily before we have to live through another Chicago winter. But Ryan and I have made and committed to the decision that I’ve talked about for the past several months on my blog. And that decision is to transition by this time next year from the Third Coast to the West Coast.
The reasons why are the same ones I wrote about in December: Chicago’s rigidly hierarchical political and economic structures enforce careers led and life lived in pre-defined boxes that are too often detrimental to the happiness and potential success of people who define themselves outside other people’s boxes. Point blank: Chicago loses creative and talented people because creativity and talent are detrimental to keeping outdated political empires in place.
It can take a long time to see that about Chicago. (It took me 11 years.) But once you do, there’s no un-seeing it. When Ryan first raised the idea of moving to Los Angeles, six months before I wrote about it publicly here, I did the emotional math and realized my main tie to Chicago was my synagogue. After last month, though, that’s really not true anymore. So why not follow our dreams?
Or more literally, why not engage with, align, and aim our lives so that, working in gratitude, trust, and consonance with God who enables all things, we will together make our dreams happen? (No really, I mean it literally. This is exactly how I roll spiritually in my everyday life.)
Months from now as we start to pack boxes, I’ll review my years in Chicago and feel duly sad. For now, though, I have no regrets. Chicago got me where I needed to be. I would never have stopped emotionally sleepwalking through my life in New York to grow in the ways that Chicago allowed me to grow–professionally, emotionally, spiritually. But I know at this point, it’s time to take the show on the road again to see what the person I am now can accomplish in another compelling place but with a different set of challenges.
I never believe non-native canards and prejudices about places, and I’ve spent more than enough time in Southern California in my life to understand that real urbanity, personal depth, a work ethic, and useful public transit are not mutually exclusive with the region. (If you add in good weather, these are the same things New Yorkers often say Chicago lacks.)
Until our current employment opportunities, had we been able to accomplish it financially, the truth is we would probably have left Chicago over the winter. My wonderful and unexpected dual-staff position at two of the Chicago region’s most dynamic economic development organizations will keep me here through the end of a yearlong federal grant, but the combined gig was never meant to be long-term. And Ryan’s new gig with an interstate medical lab has the potential for him to transfer directly to Los Angeles to develop business there.
So if ever there were an obvious pivot point, I think the two of us are living it right now. Besides, I always said I would move across the country for Disneyland eventually. Well hey there, eventually! Long time no see! How are the wife and kids?
They’re at Disneyland.
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.