Central Illinois has been a revelation for me. The not-so-simple “weather math” one has to calculate could be enough to just stay indoors until Spring. When I moved into my first apartment in Florida, it was two days before Christmas, however, it was less than chilly. Moving to one of the coldest parts of the Midwest in the winter has been quite the adventure. I have had more than one day, even with gloves on, where it took my hands a while to regain warmth. The light snow on my first evening here was like a gentle hello from my new home. For the first 29 years of my life, I had never seen proper snow and now I have experienced more than one blizzard with over ten inches of snow each. Granted, my Florida body is not quite up for playing in the snow in negative weather yet. Interestingly, it has adjusted to the cold crisp air rather quickly. My dad would have me believe that my northern European DNA was made for such surroundings. Perhaps he is right.
I was lucky enough to have found a place that is surrounded by farmland and open spaces. This gives me views of the flat, yet detailed landscape all around me. Even during an event as mundane as eating lunch at work, I am greeted by snow covered ground with small animals rushing around in the frigid temperatures. More recently, the muted colors of the sky and grass have earned my attention. Even my recent memories of Florida seem to be over-saturated with color compared to the more subtle shades I find here. During a rare moment of calm at work, I observed the color of the sky just before dusk that I had never seen. I have become slightly obsessed taking in the little details. There is a reserved pride that resonates here and I have decided to believe that the colors of winter are part of that mindset.
My (thankfully) short drive to work provides me quick reminder of the lack of people in the area. Even though there is a small-town feel, we are not a frontier town from the early 1900s. I mention this because my peers and co-workers from the South worried about me freezing to death in something like a log cabin. I am happy to report that this town has well over 100,000 people and I am sitting comfortably in my modern apartment. Admittedly, a small part of my brain had the same concern because the only information I had about the area was from TV and movies about the area from 50 years ago. If you needed a reason to travel, it would be enough just be to prove your misconceptions incorrect. One thing that I did predict correctly was the (mostly) unspoken battle between the small farming communities of central Illinois and the bustling metropolis of Chicago. I experienced a similar culture growing up in an extremely conservative area that was directly next to a liberal area, which included a large city. I mostly find all this fascinating to observe as I have been in “politically correct” land for the past several years. Regardless of the political turmoil that hides under the friendly attitude of everyone here, I am enjoying my time here and am excited for the future.
Why anyone would have warned me off from moving here is still beyond me. Maybe the thrill of my first big move is still coursing through my body. My appetite for adventure has increased over the last year and now I am putting it to good use. Even with the wind and the snow, I am happy to be here.
That last statement is a large step for me. I picked up and moved more than 1000 miles away from everything I knew. Almost my entire family is still in Florida and that still scares me on some days. I could pretty much drive across the state without a map and only get lost a couple times. My old coworkers and friends are still living their lives, like normal. However, this was one of the main reasons I left the humid embrace of the sunshine state. I wanted a fresh start. A clean slate to make new friends and find a church that did not immediately connect with my past. The level of intention that I have put into this part of my life is evident and this keeps me going. Not unlike the many layers of my winter clothing, my life is in constant flux.
When was the last time you made a large change in your life? How did it turn out? Are you still in the midst of the chaos storm? Let me know! 😀