The Beginning of the End of Life in Chicago

It's been unseasonably warm in Chicago the last couple of weeks, temperatures in the 70s and 80s. We've been leaving the windows open at night and as I'm drifting off to sleep I can still hear the rumble of the train as it crosses the river a few blocks north.

Last Friday we had a couple of friends over for dinner and were happily surprised that it was warm enough to spend the evening on the deck. I snapped this picture in the midst of busying about getting ready, and as I took it, I realized that this marks the end of our last summer in Chicago.


We've spent three full summers enjoying this deck and I think it will become a place I return to in my head, long after we've moved elsewhere. We've had parties and dinners, quiet moments,  yoga classes , and mom groups on this deck. Greg and I have sat, looking up at the trees above late into the night, listening to the river gurgling below. We watched Veronica crawl and then take some of her first steps on its wooden floor, and our cats have lazed about for more hours than I care to be envious of.

We've given ourselves a June 1, 2010 eviction date, meaning we'll be in California for Veronica's second birthday. Suddenly the countdown begins.

Last summer. Last fall. Last dreadful winter. Last holidays. Last ice storm. Last time posing under the gorgeous fall tree in Horner Park. Last time we pack up the deck furniture for the season. Last fire in the fireplace. Last trudge home through the snow. Last frost on the windows and last time the pipes freeze in the kitchen (at least for us). Last time hearing the ducks quacking on the river. Last time watching a racoon disappear into the trashcan in the back alley. Last meal cooked in this beloved kitchen. Last dinner party on the deck.

All of those things are upon us.

And so much more is ahead of us.

But I couldn't help standing there that night, taking in the scene: Greg and our little girl who won't be little for much longer, the balmy air and quietly whispering trees above. The place where Greg and I created our first home, and the place where we became a family.



  • Tammy
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Claire, I’ve followed your blog for a long time now, back when you were in L.A. I used to sit at my dead-end newspaper job, bored to tears, and I’d read about all your adventures in California and dream. I go to L.A. every summer for vacation, and I have always dreamed of moving there. (I even scour the apartment listings on Craigslist 🙂 I know you’ve enjoyed your time in Chicago, but I could tell you longed to return to Cali one day. Best wishes and good luck. Keep us posted.
    PS – I quit the dead-end job in March after 14 years to launch a freelance writing/editing career. So far, so good! You can follow me on Twitter at tjholoman if you’d like.

  • Posted October 14, 2010 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Awesome! Congrats on your freelance career! Maybe your next big step is moving to LA? If so, we’ll see you there soon!

  • Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    ahhhhhhh…..change…..the essence of life!

  • Wendy
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    All those lasts in Chicago will be followed by new firsts as a family in California. Can’t wait to read all about your adventures in a new city. Congratulations!

  • Posted October 14, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I cant wait to WRITE about them!

  • Posted October 14, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink


  • Posted October 14, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    My Dad was in the Army, so we moved about quite a bit and I used to find every move bitter sweet. I still remember figments from each house I lived in as a kid. I am sure, V would also remember some of this house and ask you about weirdest corners later.
    You make me want to live in the moment and click more photographs instead of just thinking and working for the future. Claire, thanks for sharing your life with us!

  • Posted October 14, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Living in the present is always a challenge, and something I work at ALL the time. And gosh, I hadnt thought about it, but I really, really hope that Veronica remembers a little bit of our time here.

  • Posted October 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    She would..She would. And I am sure there are million photographs for her to see later and connect with this house =)
    Might be a good idea to make a farewell video for Veronica with all her fav parts of the house!

  • Posted October 14, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Aw, thats such a sweet idea! Makes me tear up to think about. Thank you!

  • Posted October 14, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I recently found your blog and I’ve been absolutely loving it. I think one of the main reasons is because after 6 years in the Bay Area I’m also longing for home (in my case: CHICAGO!) So even though you’re living where I want to be and I’m living (close to) where you want to be, we’re both going through similar feelings of enjoying where we currently are but excited for changes ahead…

  • Posted October 14, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Claire –
    How exciting for you and your family . I found your blog when it seemed someone needed to tell me that life could be fun and dealing with my mothers cancer was not as scarey as the doctors and life made it seem . Your adventure’s in Chicago has brought me laughter , joy and a peace that I never thought I could have in those moments . And those moments I could not do Pilates or yoga to calm me , I found you . So know the next part of your adventure will be starting and I am so happy for you , because I have found through your blog that change is a GOOD thing . So I wish you many Good changes in your life and I can’t wait to read about them .

  • Posted October 16, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Oh, Kate. This is such a nice comment. Thank you. I feel really privileged to have affected your outlook in some way, and to have made it not so scary. Thank you so much for all your kind words.

  • Posted October 17, 2010 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Moving is so bittersweet. But what an exciting adventure you have ahead of you as a family!

  • Posted October 17, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    So funny that were opposites! But glad to hear that were both trying to stay positive!

  • Posted October 17, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    True words. I dont think Ive ever experienced a move that wasnt bittersweet!

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