I love Chicago. I’ve loved living here. It might be my favorite place in the entire world.

Heavy statement, sort of. I believe your favorite environments tell a lot about you. Mine is here, as of now. This weather (this batshit crazy weather), the people, the grid system. The biking, my friends, late nights and early mornings. My close proximity to IL/WI family. Everything is my favorite here (except raw food restaurants, that was a one-time-only experience, sorry Erin!), and I’m leaving all this comfort – including, I might add, IN-UNIT LAUNDRY! – to go to a far away, tropical place teeming with strange foods, customs, and the buzz of an alien language. I’m going to get very good at charades, I can tell you that! I’m not fooling myself: it’ll be difficult, scary, and very, very exciting. I’m sure my first couple weeks will be exhausting!

I’ve been planning and scheming for months now, and just this morning I got to say my last essential goodbyes. I’ve been saying goodbye to people for months now, squeezing in drink dates, coffee dates, late dinners, and early breakfasts. Confiding in you about my fears and hopes has been liberating and necessary (ha!), but it’s also the hardest thing I’ll be leaving behind: the physical presence of my friends. I like seeing people face to face!

With the state of the tech these days, I seem to be getting pretty much as far as I can from everyone I love, physically speaking: it’s a 12 hour difference from Chicago to Vietnam. For fully half a day, every day, I’ll be a day ahead of most of you! But I have tools no one had a generation ago. Through this blog, facebook, skype, and texting, I hope to keep in touch as if I were still just on the hard-to-reach northwest side of Chicago.

I’ve had the most amazing experiences in Chicago and solidified the WORLD’S BEST friendships. Each and every one of my friends contributes something super special to my life, and I want to maintain as much as possible from the other side of the globe. But really, you’re ridiculous – other people write books about groups of people like you and the adventures we have! You’re so amazing I sometimes pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming! You’re funny, loyal, fair, interesting, spontaneous, graceful, and caring. You’re everything I always wanted to be myself, and you’re going to help keep me brave as I jump off this cliff into my second life. Expect to hear from me often as I carve out a place for myself in the Ho Chi Minh City!

As far as my more well-traveled friends across the country, you’ve been my guinea pigs. It’s like the immortal question, “I want some plants, but can I take care of a plant and keep it alive?” except about relationships. I regret to admit I may have killed some of you. I know our roots are down there, though, and I’m busting out the water and sunshine!

Expect more from me soon!

And EXPECT POSTCARDS. They are COMING. Leave a comment or text me if you want to get on my list (it’s a pretty healthy list already, but just to be sure).

P.S. AND GOODBYE CHICAGO!!! I’LL MISS YOU SO MUCH. You’ve been the best and worst place ever, and now that I’m moving away I get to be nostalgic and just remember the good stuff!