I've had two huge location changes in my life that I can remember. The first was when I moved to Florida in 2005, and then when I moved back to Illinois in 2008. In three weeks I will embark on the third great move of my life. The wife and I are pulling up stakes, hitching up the wagon and heading east. Back to Dani's home town of Boston, Mass. It's been a great three and a half years in good old Chi-town. I've made some great, hopefully lasting, friendships. I met my the woman who would eventually become my wife. I saw my first Cubs, Bulls, White Sox, and Blackhawks games live. I tore a chunk of my meniscus and had my right knee scoped. And I've played some really great hockey. I thought I'd share a few of my memories about Chicago here.
For a good part of 2009 I had one of the most trying parts of my stay in Chicago. It was during this time I took a freelancer job through an agency with United Airlines. The job was fine, and for the most part I enjoyed the people I worked with. The pain of the situation was the reverse commute from the city to the north west suburbs. Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of having to drive in or out of Chicago in rush hour would relate. In the mornings it would typically only take around 45 minutes to get out to the facility. However coming back into the city at 5pm was a nightmare. A good day I would get home in 75 minutes or so. On a bad day, like during a cubs night game, it would easily breach two hours. This went on for an entire year of my life. I for sure will not miss the Chicago traffic. Though I've not heard great things about Boston's traffic either.
Another great memory from Chicago was my 30th birthday. It wasn't a huge ordeal. No big drunken stories, but to me it was memorable. A good group of some of my favorite people from Chicago were kind enough to travel out to Benihana's in Schaumburg to celebrate with me. The picture they took of us all will be one I'll hang on to for a long time to come.
And then there is the hockey. Before I moved here I had never seen my favorite hockey team play in person aside from half a game in Carolina once. I still remember my first game seeing the Blackhawks play at the United Center. I've been to many games since then, and I still never take them for granted. I'm like a little kid every time the crowd starts the roar during the national anthem. But I will leave Chicago knowing that I was able to be here when they hoisted their first Stanley Cup in so many years. I went downtown and found myself chasing the victory parade down the street like a fool. I was there at the UC when they raised the banner to the rafters. This is not only a favorite Chicago moment, but one of the most amazing moments of my life period.
But not to let the Blackhawks have all the glory, I've had my fair share of success playing puck in the windy city. A couple years ago I played in the first hockey tournament I had been to in ages. A great group of guys that I knew from Elgin invited me to come along with them and play at a USA hockey tournament just outside Kansas City. The hockey was fun and we dominated, obviously. But the trip out there and back and hanging with those guys was part of the trip that was the most fun. Even though I haven't skated with them in quite a while, I'll still miss playing with that group.
And then I met the Monday night hockey / X-Factor group. The ladies became my hockey family in Chicago. We would meet almost every Monday night and skate for a couple hours. Sometimes it was really great hockey, others it was bad. But it didn't seem to matter as I always looked forward to going every week. The cooler full of beer and treats Diane would bring every week definitely did not hurt that enthusiasm. And Sam always made sure we had a fabulous soundtrack to skate to. Some nights there was more dancing on the ice than shots on goal. The Monday night hockey ritual will be one of the things I miss most about leaving Chicago.
There are so many other good memories I will leave here with. Almost too many to name. There was the trip I took to Los Angeles with Kerry and Tesh. The Hall and Oats concert at the Chicago theatre. Playing ice hockey outdoors for the first time. That time we ran into the cast of Super Troopers at the Lakeshore Theatre. Skating with Ryan Dempster at the ice rink at Wrigley Field. My 29th birthday spent watching Elton John and Billy Joel perform together in the middle of Wrigley Field. We had some ridiculously silly drunken times hanging out with the John Marshall crowd at the Plymouth downtown. The comicons, and the nerf gun battles. Sailing lessons on lake Michigan. Taking the dogs on long walks through the parks. And so many other great memories. Chicago, you will be tough to leave and I'm sure I will miss you and your fine people immensely. But I am ready and excited for a new adventure. And not to worry, I'll be back from time to time. You can count on that.