Every three or four years, I get an itch. It’s a cycle, a habit at this point. I crave change, then demand stability. Change, stability. Over and over, in a loop.
I went to high school for four years, but was at my main school for only three. I may be among the few human beings who didn’t totally hate high school. It was all right. I liked my small group of friends, living the two-sport athlete life and most my classes. But in time, it began to feel confining. My every move was determined by a coach or teacher. So when it came time to graduate, I was ready. I wanted to move on to new things: a narrower academic focus, more independence, the electric atmosphere of a college campus. I chose Penn State.
I attended college for four years (though I had an opportunity to graduate sooner). I loved the rituals of college football on Saturdays, homework and recovery on Sundays, classes and clubs every other day. Still, in time, I began to grow bored. My coursework was instructive, but not illuminating. I couldn’t help but feel like I was on a treadmill. When it was time to graduate, I was ready. I wanted to move on to new things: a creative full-time job, more time to read and climb, an apartment in a city I could call my own. I moved to Chicago.
I lived in Chicago for three years. I loved the freedom and customizability of a life led outside a curriculum. I got a climbing partner and learned when all the free days were at the Art Institute. I rollerbladed to work on the lakefront path when the weather was warm. This time, there was no graduation day in sight. All there was was my long-distance relationship and I was eager to lose the distance part. We discussed and planned for a long time, but leaving Chicago took some mental prep. It wasn’t easy. Still, I wanted to move on to new things: a shared space with someone I cared about, a new challenging job, adventures I couldn’t even imagine. I moved to Philadelphia.
I felt like I was starting from scratch again and mostly I was. I had a surprise party for my birthday just after I moved and all my Philly friends were invited. Both came.
It’s been three years since I first moved to Philly. I stayed, even when there was no one to stay for. I simply enjoyed stumbling upon the narrow streets, hanging out in the breezy parks and eating more good food than I could anticipate. Philly, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated cities in the US. (Don’t believe people who say Philly is unfriendly. Philadelphians are so nice, in fact, I’ve become friends with the 60-something year-old doorman who works in another building on my block. Not my building, another totally random building. He calls me Brooksy.) The city is a beacon for those who enjoy a good jaunt, jog or jelly-filled donut.
Only with time did the idea of change creep into my head. Despite how great Philly has been to me, how warm and inviting, I’m ready for new things. I’ve got the itch and it’s time to go.
Still, I can’t resist reflecting on the incredible times I had in starting anew in Philadelphia and the amazing people I met. I’m going to miss my Penn State friends, some of whom I barely knew at Penn State, a fact we found irrelevant in Philly. I’ll miss my Nice Friends are Nice crew, who manage the rare feat of being whip-smart professionals and complete goofballs. I’ll miss my not-so-easily-categorized friends, who belayed me with little notice, texted me whenever they went to Good Dog, let me nap on their balconies when I was tired, cooked me elaborate homemade dinners simply ‘cuz and a thousand other things as well.
Three years in Philadelphia sounds about right to me. I’m eager to be near my family again, breath the saltless smell of Lake Michigan and work on some exciting new projects. Chicago, say what’s up.