I have two weeks left in Ann Arbor. Two weeks from today, I should be in Chicago, and a week after that, I’ll be getting ready to start my new job. I asked the internets for recommendations for my last two weeks here, and they responded in great force. I can’t obviously accomplish all of these things in two weeks, but it’s good to have a place to start.
- Filmfest, foolmoon, festifools
- Get into that little playground on the roof of the old Mott Children’s Hospital.
- Coconut cream batido from frita batidos
- Frita batidos, Sunday brunch at Aut bar
- Canoe the Huron (if they’re open?) If not open or too cold, go to the DIA. That never gets old.
- Dunny purchase from Vault of Midnight. Go see Lewis the orange tabby cat at Downtown Home and Garden. Go to Ashleys for beer on the busiest night, take $20 and play the same song (bad or good) over and over again on the internet juke box. Walk in Gallup Park.
- If the weather is right & you still have your bike, you can take the b2b trail to downtown Ypsilanti.
- Run through the Arb, brunch at Eastern Market, good beer at Jolly Pumpkin and then a bad beer over at the Eightball and definitely go visit Lewis!
- Happy Endings at Berkley Front over City Club this Friday.
This is in addition to the list that Shana and I have been compiling:
- Bell’s bi bim bap with Amanda
- Nachos somewhere with Shana and Javan
- Night out in Detroit with housemates
- Biscuits and chocolate-bacon gravy at the Roadhouse (post-race brunch of dreams
- Brunch at Raven’s Club
- One last bakefest (Oreos!)
- Another Knights of the West Side
Already checked off the list in the last few weeks are:
- Afternoon Delight, which is hands’ down my favorite breakfast place in town.
- Taco Tuesday at Sabor Latino
- Donuts and/or ice cream from Washtenaw Dairy, which has the best donuts on the planet.
- Plastic Passion at Necto
- My first and only visit to the Arb
- A very long walk along Huron River Drive
- Treasure Mart
What am I missing?
I’m taking time out before the meal preparations start to tell you more about our big news, presented in brief in my previous post. Chicago!
Let me back up.
When we started to talk about leaving DC, we were both unhappy in our jobs. We were tired of our commutes, tired of living in the suburbs, tired of the cost of living somewhere just a little too expensive. We had a lease that was ending, and a fabulous job opportunity for Shane. We were Ready To Go.
We’ve now been in the mitten for a little over two years, and (in the spirit of the day) have much for which we’re thankful. We have good jobs and many good friends. We’ve been able to pursue our interests – beer, mopeds, knitting, running, cooking, records, gardening – and have had storage space to accommodate all of those interests. We’re healthy, though Shane has been fighting a nasty cold all week, as are our cat friends. Our families and most of our friends are within half a day’s drive, as are several major cities and lots of gorgeous nature.
So why move?
Because we’re craving city life. Because every time we go to Chicago and see allllllllllllllll of our friends, we feel grumpy that we don’t live closer. Because having a newish nephew has made us acutely aware of the passage of time and how much we’re missing by only seeing him a few times a year. Because we’ve only gone to a handful of shows in the time that we’ve lived here. Because it’s frankly not that much more expensive than Ann Arbor, but offers so much more to a childless couple in their 30s who want to have fun before they’re too old to be fun. Because we didn’t get the full city experience living in the ‘burbs of DC. Because it’s a major hub for airlines and a world class destination for good food and coffee. Because I’m a Cubs fan. Because so many of the people that made Champaign home are now in Chicago, and because Champaign is 2.5 hours away by train. Because there’s a lake and beaches in the interminable summer. Because it’s a city of neighborhoods, each with their distinct identity. Because it has an established bike (and moped) culture. And because we’re ready for a change.
After several conversations this summer, we decided that we wanted to focus our energy in this direction. We weren’t sure if or when it would happen, but we wanted to make it happen. We started applying for jobs, realizing that if they didn’t happen, we were still in a very good place, and the worst it meant would be that we would be in that good place a while longer. In October, on the heels of a few weeks of ridiculous travel, Shane interviewed at DePaul, and a few weeks ago, he was offered the job. Chicago!
So what happens next? At some point in December, a moving company will pack up our apartment and load it onto a truck and drive it to Chicago. We’ll go home for Christmas, then come back here to move me into a month-to-month sublet and to load up the van with some cats and the stuff Shane will need until the movers arrive. I’ll help him get settled so that he can start his new job on January 2, and then we’ll do the back and forth thing until I can find a job. There will be lots of visits and Skype calls and separation angst, but hopefully it won’t last too long, and by the spring we’ll be together again in our new city. And we absolutely can’t wait.
I really want to ride my bike.
I miss being a bike commuter. I miss the ride to GSLIS from our house, 7 minutes flat on a good day. I miss feeling superior in January when I would arrive at work in a bundle of layers. I miss the freedom of being able to hop on Yellow and go wherever I wanted in town.
I miss biking into DC. I didn’t do it all that many times, but it was An Adventure: crossing the GW Parkway and riding up along the river, past National airport, over the Memorial Bridge, then up the brutal hill on 23rd by the State Department, arriving at work jelly-legged and drenched in sweat, but secure in the knowledge that I could shower at the gym.
Shane has a new bike, and on Monday we set off for work together, resolved to be bike commuters once again. But here’s the thing: I fucking hate biking in Ann Arbor.
My commute is literally up hill both ways. The route to work is more downhill than uphill, but the uphill parts are situated in the midst of a series of one-ways and stoplights – as in, a light at every block for the last mile of my commute – making it impossible to build up or sustain any momentum. In the course of a one-way commute, I gain and lose 100 feet of elevation, all on my single-speed bike. The Statue of Liberty is 93 feet tall, just for the record.
While in most places, a bike is treated as a vehicle and so expected to be on the road, in A2, that seems to be up to the discretion of the cyclist. This means that cyclists are on and off the sidewalks, in and out of the roads, riding wherever they damned well please – which then means that drivers don’t know what is going on and respond as erratically as the cyclists behave. This means that today, Shane nearly collided with a cyclist running a red light (or possibly going the wrong way against traffic?), while I was almost hit by a car that ran a stop sign.
I’ve complained about the roads before. They’re terrible. This is even more noticeable when you have an uncomfortable seat, and when you’re trying to avoid getting hit by cars or doored while also trying to avoid seams, cracks, and potholes in the poorly maintained pavement. Shane nearly wiped out in the gravel at the foot of our driveway, and I skidded on a crack in the road today.
In short, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not worth it to try to ride my bike to work. I arrive in a seriously disheveled and sweaty state and often in a foul mood from the exertion and annoyance of the ride. I rolled into work this morning and had no willpower to resist Oreos in the breakroom. I took a different route home and arrived in tears, winded and sore. I thought that changing out the freewheel would help – and it has – but I’m still actively unhappy on almost every ride, and that’s just not worth it. Sorry, Orange Porange. Maybe we can have adventures in another city.