Denver or Chicago?

About a week before we left Chicago I started googling, “Denver or Chicago?” I scoured Reddit forums in hopes strangers would make me feel better about our upcoming move. As I’ve said before, I was on board with the move from the start, but when push came to shove I got major cold feet.

When we had to leave Chicago in the hasty way we did panic set in. What are we doing? I love this city. Our friends are here. We have a home here. We have NO HOME now. These were just a few thoughts running through my head as we pulled off our street in Wicker Park for the last time. I was also newly pregnant and the pandemic was just getting started… So like I said, there was a lot going on.

The list of pros and cons on Reddit told me everything I already knew- Chicago is great. And so is Denver. Each city has its positives and negatives and apparently we’d have to get to Denver and decide for ourselves.

Which brings me to today, nearly three months later; officially Denver folk. Well not officially, we still don’t own a Subaru. Or mountain bikes. But we have settled in nicely and it’s starting to feel a little more like home every day.

I get asked frequently if I miss Chicago and do I like Denver? The answer is yes to both. We ended up purchasing a home in the Lower Highlands neighborhood (LoHi as the kids say here) mostly because it reminded us of what we liked so much about Chicago- lots of cute restaurants, bars, and coffee shops are just a 5-10 minute walk away. (Home tour coming soon ish…)

We love the walking lifestyle and weren’t ready to fully resign to having to drive everywhere. (We still share a car in fact and I will drag my heels in the mud as long as possible before we have to get another.)

Anyway, back to all of the fun restaurants and bars we live by that we really haven’t been to yet… Once we finally go to them I’ll let you know what I think. 😉 We’ve been to a few, but we aren’t venturing out too much given the state of things right now. However the places we have tried have been really good. Are they Chicago good? Well… it’s probably still too soon to tell. A lot of restaurants are doing the best they can right now given the circumstances so it doesn’t feel right to make that call at the moment. Talk to me in 2021.

We’re also about a ten minute walk from downtown as well as the baseball stadium. Of course we’re only walking by the stadium and the fun places that surround it, but someday they’ll open up again. (Like I said, really excited for 2021.)

I miss our friends in Chicago and the little routines I’d created for Har and I. I miss our walks to Target, although we probably wouldn’t be doing that now, anyway. I’m sure I miss a lot of things that have changed since March but in my mind they’re still the same. I miss the patios on Division, the Saturday brunching, the cheese curds at Bangers and Lace, okay I miss Chicago restaurants in general. I dream about Café Marie-Jeanne in West Town. And Chicago Bloody Marys with a beer back- mostly from Twisted Spoke. (I haven’t had a Bloody since February but who’s counting…) And you know what I really miss? Chicago drivers. Man, I love Chicago drivers. They’re pushy and aggressive but they get the job done. It’s a different story here in Denver, but I won’t get into that now. I’m sure they mean well when they sit at a green light and don’t look up in time to turn left… No one even honks when this happens. NO ONE. In Chicago the car behind this person would have literally driven over the top of the car to get by, but not here. Because people are chill. I’m working on my chill.

Chill chill chill. That’s the vibe we get in Denver. (Unless you try to put your dog’s poo bag in a different trash can in the alley, then it’s not chill.) But other than that, we like the people we live by. Everyone sits on their front porch at night with a beer or wine and says hello as neighbors pass. I bought fresh honey from a guy who has the beehives in his backyard next to ours. His succulents sit in the alley and no one steals them! We were gone for an entire weekend and three packages sat in front of our house untouched. Can you imagine?

We also have a yard. It’s small, but it’s perfect. Har and I love it. So does Chris. He stares at the grass for hours. The only thing Chris might like more than his patchy lawn is our weekend trips to the mountains. In under an hour we find ourselves in some of the coolest places we can’t believe are so close to where we live. Having access to so many outdoor adventures is pretty unreal after not having geography for so long.

We’ve become hikers, no big deal. We say things like, “which should trail should we do tomorrow?” And “damnit, we’re out of Clif bars again.” I’ve never seen Chris and Har as happy as they are when they’re out hiking a new trail.

So do I miss Chicago? Of course. But I’m also loving this new life in Denver. For where we are right now I think it was the perfect move for us. It was scary to jump out of our comfort zone and leave behind what was so familiar to us, just like it was ten years ago when we left Nebraska, but I guess trying something new sometimes works out. Who knew? 😉

And don’t get me started on the dream of having a snow baby in teeny tiny skis… I was never one to have “baby fever” until I saw toddlers in snow overalls on the mountain. Now that gets me really excited.

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