Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Leaving Chicago

As we left Chicago on Friday for the last time as “Chicagoans”, I saw the tension in my wife’s shoulders begin to drain away, tension that has been there for four years. From the smile on her face, I’m pretty sure she felt that tension draining away herself. It was enough to make up for our (as usual) car-sick cat.

Now that we are in Midland Michigan, there are a few things about living in Chicago that have become clearer, in their difference. While I plan to write reflections in the coming two weeks on the end of my Clinical Pastoral Education Residency, on settling in to an Interim Minister position, and on beginning my role as a Military Chaplain (among other topics)… I thought I would first reflect on what it is like to not be in Chicago anymore.

When we visited Midland back at the beginning of July, my wife asked me what that huge glowey thing in the sky was. The moon just looks so dim and small from Chicago, surrounded by all those city lights. As we drove through cornfields, it looked about three times the size we were used to, and it was so bright.

Just yesterday here in Midland, I parked on a residential street, and found myself spending about a minute looking around for the sign that would tell me if I had the right permit to park there or not… that one will take a little time to let go of.

This morning, I took a shower where I did not really need soap… the water pressure would “pressure wash” any dirt and grime off me. The soap was merely an afterthought. Living in a third story walkup Chicago railroad apartment, I had forgotten what water pressure was like.

It took me less than 10 minutes to get to work, on the opposite side of the city of Midland from where I live. I lived on the opposite side of Chicago from where I worked for most of the last four years, and the fastest I ever made it was 45 minutes, usually it was more than twice that. I’m now imagining what all I might be able to do with an extra 3-4 hours each day…

There are “big box stores” here other than Target. I’m kinda not so happy with Target at the moment, and so if we were still in Chicago, I would be trying to live out of my local ACE hardware store… again. Amazingly, we can even avoid the Wal-Mart (whom I’m also not happy with) and have found a place called Mejier. If you know some bad things about Mejier, please do not tell me till we are fully moved in.

The air just smells better here than Chicago, and that’s all I’m going to say on that.

Last night, before we went to bed, my wife noted the absence of fire, ambulance, and police sirens, as well as the distinct lack of the sounds of the helicopter for the University of Chicago Hospital, which used to fly right over our apartment. It was just quiet. That will take some getting used to.

At first, everything just seemed to cost less here. That is true, prices are lower in general, but not nearly as dramatically as we had at first thought. It took us awhile to figure it out… No Chicago sales tax.

Now, there are some things we will miss about living in Chicago, and especially in Hyde Park. First off, from the assessment I have done of bumper stickers and casual overheard conversations, I may well be the most liberal person in Midland Michigan. Well, among the most liberal, and the others attend the UU Fellowship I am serving. In Hyde Park, amid all the rallies and lectures and meetings of liberal organizations it was easy to be lost among them. Due to my military status, I might have even been a “conservative” in Hyde Park.

The lack of diversity in this part of the country is also apparent, although less in Midland than in other places. Dow Chemical has brought a lot of people to Midland, of many different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Yet, coming from living on the South Side of Chicago, it will take me awhile to adjust to being racially identifiable as part of the majority again, even though Hyde Park itself is very racially and culturally diverse. Now, both Hyde Park and Midland are at the middle to upper end of the class scale… so I will keep driving around in my beat up old Honda.

I should say something about missing all the culture, the events, the night-life of Chicago… but I can’t, because Sandy and I never really participated in any of that. I would rather have a good cheap gyros than a fancy expensive dinner. I would rather watch children playing a soccer game at the park than go to a fancy downtown play. I would rather sit at home with my wife reading a book than hang out at a Chicago nightclub… so I don’t expect we will miss much. In fact, we’re probably more likely to go to things like the Folk Music Festival here in Midland this weekend than we ever were to go to a concert series in Millennium Park.

So, Chicago… Farewell, Adieu, and thanks for the Master’s of Divinity Degree…

Yours in faith,

Rev. David

One Thought on “Leaving Chicago

  1. Wonderful reflection David. I hope the more quiet and relaxed pace of Midland helps ease the transition for you and Sandy. I also hope Athena recovers from the drive! The one thing we miss about Chicago is the diversity. It seems so weird to live in a mainly white suburb now after living in Hyde Park.

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