You Can Take the Girl Out of Chicago…

It’s finally time to write about what’s going on around here.

I’m leaving the Chicago area.

I say “I” because Jim has been gone for nearly six months, and the boys are sticking around here: one in the western suburbs and the other just over the Wisconsin border (Kenosha County is considered part of Chicagoland).

This past year has been the most stressful one of my life. We’ve dealt with Roxie’s death (that anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks), Jim leaving one job and taking on a new one four states away, his bike accident, my staying behind to sell this house so I can permanently join him, and some things I don’t ever blog about so I cannot mention them now.

It doesn’t look like much when I summarize it all into a little paragraph like that, but the reality is that I have been on the edge of Hot Mess for more days than I care to count. Truth be told, I still am. Some days are better than others but I feel like I have been stuck in this glass case of emotion with no escape on a regular basis.

glass case of emotion

I am feeling all kinds of things about this move, including heartbreak. I am a Chicago native. I lived here for the first eleven years of my life and after spending time in Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia I came back and have lived here for the past twenty-six years. I have lived in this town for the past twenty-two years, and I have lived in this house for the past sixteen years. Jim and I raised our two sons (and two dogs!) here. My second book was about Chicago. The brand I have been building for a decade is Chicago-focused. I have lots of friends here. My workout “family” is here. My Chicago roots are thick and deeply buried. Pulling them up and replanting myself elsewhere is harder than almost anything I’ve ever had to do. Something that weighs heavily on my mind is that normally it’s the kids who grow up and leave home, but in this case we’re leaving them to their lives here. It’s fine; parents and kids don’t always stay in the same area and I’m fortunate enough to have the ability to plan regular visits, but my heart cracks open when I think about it and the tears flow, again.

On the other hand, this move became exciting once I got used to the idea and realized all of the good that will come with it. Knoxville is where Jim and I met in high school. Our story began there, and it feels a little awesome to be moving back after being gone for three decades. Our parents and my sister are all there. We have friends there, both old and new. The cost of living is about thirty percent less there than here. The weather is glorious there. The Smoky Mountains are gorgeous. We are already intimately acquainted with the Knoxville area so it doesn’t feel altogether like starting fresh in a strange town. The drive to visit my New Jersey family will be four hours shorter. Thanks to blogging, I have “portable” friends all over the country who are just a click away on my laptop and because of that I’m not as scared of starting over in a new place as I would have been ten years ago. Jim’s “new” job is a great opportunity for him and he loves it. I can still do my job in Knoxville and will be creating a Chicago-themed home office in our new house, the one I get to go find next week. I’ll be commuting up here monthly through May for Chicago’s Listen To Your Mother show and will make lots of future trips to see my kids and my friends. You can take the girl out of Chicago but you can’t take Chicago out of the girl. Ever.

Most importantly, Jim and I will be under the same roof again. It’s been a long six months of back-and-forth and living apart. Being reunited is going to feel so good. (Yes, I went there. Thanks, Peaches and Herb!)

I fluctuate between the extremes of sadness and excitement sometimes hourly (I’m allowed!), but lately the latter has started to edge out the former. Now that we have a moving date set for the end of February I’m looking forward to feeling relief that this part of our journey is over. When I think about the light at the end of the tunnel it looks like Jim and me wearing pajamas on the couch in our new living room, eating pizza, and watching something silly on television together, probably sighing heavily and happily. The idea that I won’t have to be constantly thinking about something related to moving or the logistics of visiting my husband in another state for much longer is a little intoxicating and honestly, hard to believe…but it’s coming.

In the meantime, if you see me and I’m overly emotional, don’t worry. I’m on my way.



  • Liz

    I’m soooo excited about your finally being able to move on and staer that new chapter in the book of Melisa (with one S) and Jim 🙂 You’ve both worked
    so very hard to get here…in one piece, literally…and you both have had to make some very hard decisions, I’m in awe of the both of you and wish nothing but the best of luck. You guys deserve all the good things, especially epic pizza and movie nights in your new home — can’t wait to be able to join you. I’ll bring the apple sauce <—- for me 🙂

  • Beth

    I am just coming out of the other side of a move and I can admit it was SO HARD but the right decision. Being close to family is the best part and it is beautiful in that part of the country. Change is good. ❤

  • Sylvia Joy

    We are so glad things will be settled soon for you two. It has been long and hard but all willl be well.
    Love Grandma W

  • Ann

    I almost started crying myself. I’ve been sooooo lucky to have you close by and to journey through this phase together. I love you and am so excited for you to kiss much of the stress goodbye, and bring so many happy Chicago memories with you. All you’ve built and grown lives on all!!!

  • karenmeg

    Wow Melisa-so much going on I can imagine all the ups and downs for you! In all the years I’ve been following you (and lucky that I actually got to meet and see your smiling face in person on so many years ago at BlogHer ’09 -in Chicago !) I’ve always associated you with the city. And that association won’t go away. It’s great that your boys are at an age and are flying well into their own lives -and wonderful that you will be close to your folks again. It matters as they (and we all) get older. Glad that you will be reunited with hubby-and have fun house hunting! And so cool that I know someone in Tennessee now!

  • Kari Wagner Hoban

    Oh friend, I am going to miss not having you locally but honestly you live just as far in Knoxville as you were in Chicago KIDDING.
    I feel you in this, I am not a fan of change so this would set me over the edge. But the future possibilities look glorious for all of you and I am so glad you will have your parents and sis there too.
    Give Tennessee a HUGE hug from me and now I have someone there to visit again!

    Love you.

  • whencrazymeetsexhaustion

    I’m still bitter you’re not in Pittsburgh, but I’ll set aside my feelings and focus on yours…I guess. 🙂 All’s I can say is that the love you and Jim share will keep you happy regardless of where you move. That’s a rare treat you two have, ya know? Happy last few weeks in Chi-town, safe travels to Knoxville, and come live with me. Thank you kindly. xo

  • Angela

    Sending love or hugs or laughter or a dance party or whatever it is that your glass box of emotion needs right now. You’re pretty amazing, you know.

  • Rachel Jay

    We have a few bloggy friends in common, and last May I moved down to Knoxville from Hoffman Estates, IL after my husband was in TN for about a year. If you ever need a sympathetic ear, or want to hang out when you get down here, I sent you a friend request on FB 🙂 Always great to meet new folks down here, especially when they understand my rage that the “Chicago-style pizza place” butting the sauce UNDER the cheese 😉

  • Kris McDonald

    Oh Honey!! I am so excited and sad for you at the same time. What a whirlwind of emotions! It sounds like things are already working towards being GREAT in your new town. I will certainly miss you here though. And as for the house selling, moving madness, etc. I TOTALLY feel your pain. I have been going through it since Sept! I sold MY house, moved into my mother-in-law’s house, and have been feeling just out of sorts and scattered while waiting on our build. We are FINALLY moving into OUR home in just about 2 weeks. Our happiness looks like yours! We talk about being able to just lounge on the couch, hang out in the kitchen without other folks in the way, and not sharing a bathroom with 2-3 other adults!!

    I’ll be watching your journey. Love you!

  • Stephanie Precourt

    I still miss Chicago so much, and so my heart breaks for you there HOWEVER, who knew that moving away to a whole new place would allow me to discover so many new things about my own self? I am hoping the same for you. It’s like, your world gets that much bigger (and better.) And I’m glad no matter where we are I can always reach you. <3


  • Mrs4444

    What KarenMeg said! Really, though, I’m proud of you for tackling all of this and keeping a smile on (mostly). Transitions are difficult, but I know you’ll land on your feet. Congrats