This month marks my five -year anniversary with my relationship with Chicago. I have grown tremendously throughout this time. Let’s rewind back to right after I graduated from Kent State (as the Journalism and Mass Communications top scholar, might I add).
The month before I began my journey in Chicago, two sad things happened. My father had a heart attack, and our our 17-year-old dog Lady passed away four day we moved. Although I felt a great loss immediately when Lady was no longer there to greet me when I woke up and when I got home, it probably hit my mom and dad more because they were at home every day, while I was in a new and different environment in Chicago.
Like all heart attacks, my dad’s happened suddenly. I can still remember the morning it happened. I’m so so so so very thankful and so incredibly lucky that my father recovered so well. The other day I thought to myself, “Wow, I’m so lucky my dad was here these past years. He would have missed so many incredible important moments.”
Five years ago on September 1st (my sister’s birthday), my sister and I moved into a two bedroom, two bath fancy apartment in Evanston. With a pool. It was a bit lonely at first; I found myself visiting the local puppy shops all the time. We found my first born daughter Dollie at a puppy shop in Wilmette, next to my favorite breakfast spot in the world, Walker Brothers Pancake House. Even though I was 23 and didn’t FULLY understand how much of a responsibility we took on when I brought her home on my golden 23rd birthday, I knew that I needed my family’s support. It’s a good thing I had it because today she mainly lives with G and G and they love her probably more than Allison and I. Their first granddogger. : )
Before I found my home at my current job, I spent a good half a year working at Victoria’s Secret as part of the cash wrap team. I actually really enjoyed it—with the exception of the disrespectful management team. I found excitement in talking to the customers, checking out all the cool stuff people were buying, and folding it and wrapping it in the little pink bag. By the time I had enough of that and spent probably 100 percent of my earnings on panties, I was lucky to obtain the Communications Specialist intern position.
Around this time, I didn’t think a whole lot about my future. This definitely was not a bad thing. But I focused on the now (well, the then.) Allison met a cheese girl named Cynthia at Northwestern University, and we really hit up Chicago. We explored numerous new restaurants and bars each weekend, which is why I gained 20 pounds that year. The fun was worth every pound. I also hit it off with a lot of the interns where I work. We also had a lot of fun going to lunch and going out on the weekends. Chicago is the perfect city for a single twenty-something.
It wasn’t until a year after me starting working that my BF and I started dating. It’s always that guy who has kind of been in the background for a year that I end up hitting it off with. Our first one-on-one out of work was at Le Peeps in breakfast. We talked about making our online dating profiles on a new site, Plenty of Fish. Needless to say, we never needed to complete those profiles.
Before Mark and I became a couple, I went on my fair share of dates. Several with match.com. A few who lasted a few months were through mutual friends.
Also before Mark and I started dating, me and Allison’s closest cheese sister ended up deciding to leave the program and leave Chicago. This was really tough. I spent a lot of weekends alone while Allison was visiting Aaron in Cleveland. About a year after our move, Allison graduated with her Masters in Journalism from Medill—quite the accomplishment to graduate from such a prestigious program.
A little more than a year after our move, Allison and I moved to another super fancy apartment in Rogers Park (officially in Chicago this time). Unfortunately, even though Allison spent a lot of time looking for jobs, because of the economy, she didn’t have much luck. She made the decision to move back to Cleveland in 2011. This was probably one major wake up call for me. Before this happened, I thought my parents were moving here (they actually looked at condos/houses), her boyfriend was moving here, and this is where our future would be. But that wasn’t the case. I was (and am now) the only Pritch living out of state. This was (and is) incredibly hard. Especially if you knew my family. THANK GOODNESS for Gchat (and now FaceTime). Dollie had to move to Cleveland when Allison did because with my commute I was gone 9/10 hours a day, and my little princess needs more love than that.
When Allison left, I moved down the hall of the same apartment complex into a one bedroom apartment. WELCOME to living by myself. I’m happy I did. I think it’s something everyone should experience. It’s nice to do exactly what you what exactly when you want and to not have anyone else’s stuff lying around. But eventually, it got really lonely. A year later I moved in with my boyfriend, Mark.
Moving in with Mark was another interesting learning experience with its own set of challenges. We get along extremely well for living in a 1920 one-bedroom apartment. He calls me his little tornadoJ It also made me realize that maybe I don’t need the newest apartment on the block like my parents spoiled me and lead me to believe. I’ve grown up. I’d rather stay in than go out. I’d rather have a cookout than travel.
Chicago has provided me with numerous experiences that I could not have gained by staying in Northeast Ohio.
I’m so happy and blessed I have been able to take so many trips in the past five years:
- Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, North Carolina; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Key West; and the Bahamas with the Pritch clan
- LA, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Disney World (twice) with Markerdoodle
- Ann Arbor with both the Swiderski and Pritch parents!
- Wisconsin Dells with Mark and Gina
- San Francisco with my N.O. Friends Nora, Gina, Caitrin, and Tim, and my college roomie Ashley
- Baltimore for Mark’s friend’s wedding
- Nashville to visit my best friend
- Saugatuck and Bermuda with Mark’s family
- New York with Allison and Caitrin to visit Cynthia and my rockstar BF on tour
- Put-in-Bay with Caitrin, Mark, and Caitrin’s sister
- Just last month my sister, her husband, her friends, and my boyfriend and I went to Vegas for my sister’s 30th birthday
Luckily, throughout this time I was able to keep in close contact with my parents through gchat, and then FaceTime. With them visiting me and me going home for several wedding activities and milestone anniversaries, I never had to go too long without seeing them.
I’ve had loads of visits from friends and family throughout the past five years, 80 percent of them from my parents and sister, of course. I’ve also had visits from Caitrin, Nora, Simon, Brittany, Katelyn, Amy, Ashley, Cynthia… to name a few.
Thanks to my career, and my boyfriend, I’ve been exposed to so many new artists and have been able to go to many concerts:
Glee, Flaming Lips, the Walkman, Fleet Foxes, Taylor Swift, Radiohead, Pitch Fork Festival, Cheap Trick (At my work’s family day)
I’ve been a bridesmaid in four weddings, and of course none of them were in Chicago.
But it was the perfect excuse to travel for the wedding showers, bachelorette parties, and weddings. Whenever they were in Cleveland I got to see my family. Ashley kicked off the bridesmaid bandwagon when she got married in Cleveland. Then Brittany and Holly’s in North Carolina. Then Amy Betchel’s in Cleveland, and a month later my sister’s in Cleveland as well. At my sister’s wedding, Mark and I broke out into a Pritch-rated song and dance rendition of “Marry You.” I can’t wait to see what Allison and Aaron come up with at my wedding. It’s hard to believe Allison and Aaron celebrated their one-year anniversary this month.
How do I feel about Chicago? I think it’s an awesome big city. Most of the time I forget that I’m living in the third largest city in the U.S. in terms of population. I’m only reminded of that when there’s a 2 hour wait at a restaurant or it takes me 2 hours to get out of the city like on Fourth of July weekend.
Living in Chicago has opened my eyes to new cultures and new ways of living. Public transit doesn’t seem overwhelmingly scary anymore (well, sometimes the people on the CTA still scare me…). And my list of tasty food has expanded well beyond American and Italian.
I love Chicago for its:
- Chicago-style Pizza. Right now Lou Malnati’s is my #1, with Giordanos a close second. I truly have a love affair with pizza.
- Lakefront living. There’s nothing like driving down Lakeshore drive, watching the packed beaches with cute beachside restaurants and all of the bikers, joggers, and puppies enjoying summertime.
- Summertime. Patio seating, beautiful water.
- Restaurants. I now understand what my dad means when he says he doesn’t like chain restaurants like Olive Garden and Red Robin (although I still enjoy this food, I recognize and appreciate the quality of food at an original Chicago restaurant.
- Cute apartments and houses. Although I do not want to live in Evanston permanently, the neighborhood is super cute, like many other neighborhoods in Chicago.
I can live without the:
- 10 + percent sales tax.
- High gas prices, food prices, etc. etc. Everything is more expensive.
- Six-hour drive to see friends and family.
- Violence. The first day I moved to Rogers Park we were eating at a restaurant when all of a sudden we heard gunshots of a drive by shooting. We weren’t allowed to leave the perimeters until they finished their investigation.
- Older houses. While I appreciate the style, I’m not into it for a permanent residence. It is difficult to find a newer apartment building in Chicago!
I’ve also had so many new experiences:
- Karaoke in Chinatown
- Road a Segway (and almost falling off)
- Road a tandem bike
- Played golf for the first time
- Played bocce ball for the first time
- Watched performances at Second City
- Checked out the new Casino in Cleveland (or rather, the buffet)
- Lost my smartphone virginity. I can never go back.
- Dined on top of the Hancock building
- Meet Darrin Criss from Glee and Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter
- Took a massage class with my BF (Yep, I wanted him to learn how to give me massages)
- Found a cockroach in my apartment
- Went to WWE Payback (wrestling)
- Went sledding
- Enjoyed the Book of Morman on Broadway
- Got my first couple’s massage
- Went to my first Renaissance fair
I’ve learned a lot:
- I attended a PRSA conference on internal communications
- I completed Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop classes
- I took a painting class with mom
- I completed several photography class to learn how to use my Nikon DSLR camera
- I took Dollie to several puppy classes to teach her how to be a good pup. She is officially a kindergarten graduate although now that she lives in North Olmsted I think she forgot everything she learned. She also won an award on Halloween for being the cutest mermaid ever.
- Completed a graphic design course at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
- I realized some friends won’t last forever, but it doesn’t mean the friendship you had at the time was any less valuable.
- By losing a friend at work, I’ve witnessed firsthand just how precious our time on this planet is. I don’t want to waste a moment.
- I also have learned a lot about overcoming challenges. It’s only human nature to want more, to want better. It’s a constant need. The main fact I’ve realized is that there is no way of knowing the true challenges ahead. They are unpredictable. There is no benefit of worrying. I try to be as happy as possible every day and appreciate what I have, which is really a lot!
- As I get older, my family grows more important to me.
- I learned how unimportant objects and STUFF is. I’m trying to declutter my life to enhance my life.
I work for pretty much the best Company ever. I will measure all future jobs against this one. I walked into the doors as an intern 4 and a half years ago, was hired full time a few months later, and received a promotion in June 2013. Here’s how I feel:
The people: The people are kind and passionate, most importantly; they care about what they do! They are so incredibly talented… and entertaining!
The culture: Eat to the Beat outdoor concerts. A Holiday Show put on by our Associates. Family Day. Volunteer initiatives.
The building: It’s pretty much the perfect building for me. The entire building is open in the middle. All of the walls are windows. There is no way I can feel claustrophobic in this building. And it just looks really cool.
The boss: She’s like an aunt to me. She is so kind and generous and understanding and flexible. She makes it possible for me to go on so many trips and see my family. She makes living long-distance from my family easier. And she’s been an excellent role model.
The job: It’s pretty much the perfect job for me. The people I work for are people I see every day. I get to write, design, take photos, and make little ads. And I have four cubes all to myself so I can be loud, paint my nails, and eat loudly. I can come in at 9 and eat breakfast and stay late. It’s perfect for me.
Growing up, I never even thought I would ever live anywhere other than Cleveland, and now I’ve been here for five years. Chicago has been an awesome adventure. I’ve become a person I wouldn’t have become by staying in Northeast Ohio.
At times it seems like I’m a chronic complainer and I could find something to whine about if I won the lottery. But when I take a deep breath, sit back, and look at what I have and what I’ve accomplished, I’m pretty freaking lucky.
I can’t wait to see where the next five years take me.