The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

November 30, 2012


Eleven years ago today, John and I moved from a town in West Michigan to Chicago. We rented a one-bedroom apartment in a prewar seven-story building in north Lakeview. The bedroom was so narrow that we got out of bed at its foot, not on the sides. The ceilings were tall, and the big windows looked out on other buildings, a gas station, a pawnshop, part of a billboard, a small slice of Wrigley Field.

My in-laws helped us move that Friday, driving our Penske truck while we drove my old Jetta, our goldfish clutched in a Tupperware between my knees. The power went out for awhile as we were carrying in boxes, the late-autumn sky darkening at 4:30 in the afternoon. We ate dinner at a Wrigleyville dive. I cut my hand unpacking the food processor. On Monday morning, we started our new jobs, and I took the Broadway bus to work, not realizing the el would’ve taken half as much time until my boss kindly explained that. We started new lives as city people.

El station in the Loop

Moving to Chicago is one of the things I’m proudest of having done in my life. When we arrived, we didn’t know anyone here except for one college acquaintance. Neither of us had ever lived in a city; John has never lived anywhere but the town where he was born. We left good jobs, and we left family and friends, and we set out on our own. We made it happen. We were 26 and 25, married just five months. I’ll always believe that the move brought us even closer together, since for awhile, we had no one but each other for company.

Spring sunset, North Side neighborhood

Obviously, a lot has happened to us in the past 11 years. We’ve become managers at our jobs; we’ve traveled around the U.S., Caribbean, and Europe; and we’ve had three dogs. I’ve earned a master’s degree and run two half-marathons. We’ve rented one apartment and bought two condos. We changed our religious denominations and joined an Episcopal church, although right now we don’t really attend. We entered our thirties. We decided to adopt a baby. And, of course, we became parents. There are now three of us, and that’s the biggest change of all.

Chicago has been part of all this. It’s not just the backdrop to my life; I feel like it’s a leading character. My life is better because I live in this city. It’s given me opportunities to grow and learn, for recreation and entertainment, to taste and see and experience so many new things. It’s gotten me in better shape. It’s helped solidify my political leanings. It’s introduced me to so many different people and different kinds of people. I’ve written about a lot of this, going back to 2003, and I love remembering that sense of discovery I had in the beginning, as I started to make the city, or my corner of it, my own. 

Election night 2008

My first home was in Pennsylvania. When I was 18 and my family moved to Michigan, that move left a gaping hole in my heart where home should be. The seven years I lived in Michigan brought many good things into my life, but the places I lived there were never home. Truthfully, I didn’t know what to consider home during that part of my life. Chicago has filled the hole. It’s part of who I am; it’s truly home, and for that, I feel fortunate indeed.

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