After tonight’s Hanson concert, I was inspired to tell you the story of how I came to move back to Chicago which is partly due to the band but let’s start at the beginning.
I always felt that I belonged somewhere other than the Midwest. This most likely has to do with my origin story. My dad is actually from New York City. He grew up in the Bronx and New Jersey and came to Chicago for graduate school where he met my mom who was a born and bred Midwestern girl. After my parents got married though they moved back to the East Coast and did stints in NYC, Connecticut and New Jersey which is how I came to be born in New York City. My dad always said we were the New Yorkers of the family that was always meant to be a nice little bonding thing, but to me kind of became a mantra.
When I started looking at colleges, I basically only looked out east and became enamored and eventually attended Fairfield University which is in Connecticut and only about an hour from NYC. Over the next few years, I rarely came back to Chicago. I think it was just too difficult for me since my mom passed away when I was a freshman in college. To go back would mean I’d have to deal with it, so I just stayed away from the memories. I wasn’t close with my family really at all during the seven years I was away from Chicago. In fact, I felt like an outsider with my dad and sister since they had gone through a lot of my mother’s illness while I was away at school so I felt like I had missed something and now they were part of a club I wasn’t privy to. I remember studying abroad and all my friends would call their parents daily, and I would sometimes avoid calling them during our scheduled Sunday night calls by saying I had homework.
After college, I moved to NYC (technically Hoboken but it’s really the same thing so whatever!). It was the place I figured I would stay forever. But from the beginning, it just didn’t seem to fit. Something felt off. The summer before I stayed in NYC to do an internship at a magazine and it had been the best summer of my life so I was confused as to why something about actually residing there felt wrong.
I lived there for two years trying to make it fit and work for me, but I was not happy. Looking back, it was a combination of a lot of things that just weren’t amazing – one being that the recession had just hit and it was a hard place to be at that time – but I think the big gap that was missing for me was family. I had neglected them for a long time and I ached to be back there. But I ignored that voice that was saying that deep inside me and instead kept trying to figure out what my life was lacking.
To my clueless self at the time, the answer was that I wasn’t writing anymore. I had taken a job in marketing and I felt that must be why I’m miserable. I’m writing copy and getting coffee, not writing like I should be! So I started applying to journalism grad programs…all of which just so happened to be in Chicago. I finally had that AHA moment when I started filling out the forms and realized what I wanted was just to be back in Chicago in general.
I started applying to jobs back home and applied to journalism school, figuring whichever came to fruition first would be what I picked. It took about six months to finally land a job interview at a decent company who actually flew me out on their own dime to interview in their office.
ENTER: Hanson. My flight was at 5am out of LGA – one of those commuter planes that leave every hour – and there was barely ANYONE on the flight. I’m pretty sure I boarded last and walked to the back of the plane and who was sitting in the row in front of me but Taylor Hanson. Isaac was a few rows behind me. Each had a row to themselves and passed out promptly upon boarding.
I, on the other hand, had a minor panic attack. These were guys were from a band that I had been obsessed with since I was 13 and now I could smell Taylor’s hair from my seat! In between a lot of applying for jobs and getting turned down by journalism schools, I had started to think that maybe Chicago wasn’t what I was looking for after all and maybe I just needed an old-fashioned job change in New York City. But seeing Hanson changed all that. I took this as an omen that the interview would go well and if it did that I should take it and move back to Chicago.
The interview did go well. I got the job. I did move back to Chicago. I actually met some of my best friends to this day at that job. My family and I worked really hard on our relationships. And went to therapy. And here we are today: healing.
So thank you Hanson for being such an important part of my life journey. I owe you one.