No matter how many days, months or years spent apart, friends are friends; girlfriends are sisters. 

No matter how many days, months or years spent apart, friends are friends; girlfriends are sisters. 

Thank you [I’m sorry for what I said], Chicago.

Dear Chicago,

I’ve said some pretty terrible things about you recently. Remember that night I literally cried myself to sleep over how much I thought you hated me and I you? Yeah. That was silly. We don’t hate each other. We may not have been so nice to one another lately, but I know deep down there is a lot of love between us.

I really am sorry for what I said, though. What I’d like to do now is thank you.

Thank you for:

My beautiful apartment because finding one here isn’t always easy, and I’ve gotten pretty lucky. You’ve blessed me with not one but two incredible spaces - this current one, as many know, is my favorite. It’s warm when it’s cold and open for spring-time breezes (nudge-nudge). I can be at the beach in less than 10 minutes, and that’s all while carrying enough food and booze to last the day’s rays. I can walk out of my front door and be seconds within a grocery store, restaurants, banks, boutique shops and much more. Edgewater is truly something beautiful. So, for that, thank you.

Edgewater, a view from the Red-Line “Bryn Mawr” platform.
Photo by Ashley Campbell

Running. All my life I thought it’d be cool to be a “runner.” You gave me that, Chicago! If it weren’t for the Chicago Marathon, Back on My Feet and your beautiful Lakefront Trail, I wouldn’t have done any of it. Now I’m patiently waiting for the ground to warm up so I can get back on my heels. The treadmill is terrible. Please don’t make me stay indoors too much longer. I’m missing Montrose Beach very much right now.

My affordable education by Northeastern Illinois University. If it weren’t for NEIU, I’m not sure where I’d be finishing my degree. Because of you, I will be graduating, before the age of 25 years old, with less than $15,000 in debt. Enough said. 

The jobs I’ve held while here - from selling pancakes to your tourists downtown and working onset a Travel Channel Pilot as an associate producer - WOW. The experiences I’ve gained (and the savings) while living here have been life changing, and I will take them with me wherever I go.

My independence. Now that I’ve made it in the big city, living on your own in Waukegan, IL is a piece of cake. Sorry, guys. It really is. Braving Chicago’s prices, weather, and mass amounts of trouble, are far more terrifying than living above Booners. And, I’ve done it for more than two years now. Let’s pat ourselves on the back for that one, Chicago. We’ve survived each other’s presence!

Your shitty/beautiful weather.Ahhhhhhh, yes. Have you noticed? I’ve tried very hard not to complain this year. While I may have broken down and flipped a few birds into the air recently, I truly appreciate your bipolar ways. After all, nobody would cherish those first few spring days, if it weren’t for your relentless winter months. We can’t appreciate the good without the bad. 

The Billy Goat Tavern is one place I can do all the things that I love to do at once: eating, drinking and learning. I’ve made some incredible memories at the downtown location, and I will continue to make BGT a stop for celebrating and just-because fun during my time here. 

Every single way (so many) you’ve helped Matt become the individual he is today. There is something unique and beautiful about watching your partner grow into their own. You’ve given him countless opportunities to earn his education and to build a career here. For that, our future family will forever be grateful. I know he will work to give it back to you and to the Chicago Public Schools system. We’re all about coming full circle, Chicago. Get ready. 

These are just a few things I thought up while riding the #84 to the office. Rest knowing that there are more and that I will do my best to never badmouth you again. Sometimes we fight, and I think that’s okay as long as always make up.

Also, one day I will leave you for Waukegan, IL again, and you can’t get mad at me. Full circle, remember? That’s a long ways away, though. We still have time to get to know and love each other. 

Love always,

Ashley  

People can only act as far as they know.
San Diego

Day two of being back, and I’m still severely hungover on San Diego. 

Not just the West Coast; not the waves, the sun, the humidity or the sea food (well, maybe most definitely the sea food). I miss it all.

image

Photo by Sergio Salmodov

I experienced a lot in four days, a lot for someone who will forever believe that she’s seen it all. I love my job. I love my degree. I love my newspaper and goddammit, that newspaper loves to have fun. Smash came out to play, and for once in her life, she justified all that trouble making by working her ass off the entire time. I like growing up more and more everyday.

I met some really cool people in California. Some old and some new. Four of them were friends I already knew back in Chicago, but they were all different in San Diego. I’d like to think California brought the best out in most of us. Maybe it was just the sun. Maybe I’ll feel differently about all of this in a week, but what I know right now is that San Diego felt good. San Diego felt fun and alive.

A Letter to the Ladies:

I’ve read a lot of online content by women ragging on other woman lately, and it’s really pissing me off. We ask to be respected as people and not objects; we ask to be appreciated for our minds rather than our appearances, and yet so many of us aren’t practicing what we preach. Support the cause, ladies. We’re the only ones standing in the way of loving ourselves. 

My beautifully redecorated apartment. I told ya this home is my home-home. 

Matt Hansen wins at most things, but he especially wins at gift giving. 

Two years ago today, I was on top of this LA rooftop, slightly buzzed, and calling Matt Hansen for some cross-country flirting. 
But “no, we’re not really dating.”
The next night I flew home, and we committed to always being one. 

Two years ago today, I was on top of this LA rooftop, slightly buzzed, and calling Matt Hansen for some cross-country flirting.

But “no, we’re not really dating.”

The next night I flew home, and we committed to always being one. 

To the growing part of growing up! (clink) (clink)

image

I had a delayed “Aha!” moment last weekend. I say it was delayed because my mind had to travel back to two weekends ago, the weekend when Blair came to visit us.

I thought back to me gushing my life to B while walking east on Bryn Mawr Avenue. Literally, gushing. I realize that I’m normally a gushy person, but I was gushing about my things, the contents of my life and nobody else’s. This was new. What made it especially new was that I meant every word. Nothing was puffed or previously defined. It was just me and this me was on point. 

It’s true. I’m growing up in all the ways I’ve always wanted. I’ve thought similar things before, but this time I felt the moment as I realized it. I felt the moment as my world saw itself in the mirror for the first time. It was a lovely moment brought on by such a simple memory. It was calming in an organic sense, smooth and pleasing. 

As I caught up with my steps on the pavement, next came a feeling of relief. Kind of like a little pat on the back for 1) finally walking into this moment and 2) accepting how fun it’s been getting here. 

This is the moment that everyone is telling you to wait for when you’re growing up, when you’re a little girl and discover that being a girl can feel awful at times. Everyone’s still swearing this moment exists when that little girl becomes a puberty-stricken teen, a straying young woman and so forth.

You all really knew what you were talking about, didn’t you?

Well, thank you for never letting me forget it, because it happened and you were so right. 

I have the best job ever. I’m so happy as an editor with these crazy kids!