This blog was created to document “enjoying the ride” in Chicago. I didn’t write as much as I had hoped to, but anyone who has watched me write a blog post (unknowing coffee shop baristas, for example) would find that I sit and labor over words for hours; wrinkling my nose and furrowing my brow; drowning myself in music; typing, backspacing and furiously re-typing until I’ve made whatever I think my point is supposed to be — which is, undoubtedly, not the point I set out to make to begin with — at which point I post, heave a huge sigh, and slam my Mac shut.

That was six months ago. And while I haven’t blogged with as much frequency as planned, and while blogging doesn’t come as easily as, say, crafting a witty tweet or an effective lede, I can say that my reason for attacking WordPress every so often is as present today as it was in May. Bits and pieces of Chicago remain to be written even three months later, but mostly I’ve just adjusted to enjoying the ride in a different place.

I’ve enjoyed the last six months more than I’ve enjoyed any other time in my life. The people I met? The things I learned about life, men and a city I fell in love with and that my life was here for me to be picked up for me when I came back to Iowa? That I’m still able to find Des Moines cool and that it may, in fact, give Chicago a run for its money come graduation? That I’m still learning about life, men and this city? That’s some ride.

Chicago isn’t Des Moines; summer isn’t autumn. A garden apartment on Hermitage isn’t a sorority house with 33 other girls; full-time work isn’t full-time class. Yes, I know that.

But I can still walk around with an iPod stuck to my hip and buds blasting my musique du jour. I can still spend all my free time in a coffee shop — and with friendlier baristas, thank god. The Internet affords me communication with my summer friends here just as it gave me contact with Des Moines and Kansas City friends all summer. It would seem I get to have it both ways.

The part of the ride I didn’t account for was how much the ride would change me. I didn’t need coffee shop partners, bathroom buddies or friends to walk to the train. I wasn’t afraid to be by myself occasionally because I didn’t mind the company. I didn’t need alcohol, or excess of it, because I found other ways to enjoy my nights and I’d rather get up in the morning and make something of my day. I didn’t spend my time keeping up or building what I thought were superficial relationships because I know how real ones feel, even after being alone in a city. I didn’t need to stress about men (for long) because there will be others.

There’s nothing wrong with those things. Is it nice to have company sometimes? Absolutely. It is fun to be wasted sometimes? Yes. But I didn’t need them in Chicago. I didn’t prioritize those things this summer.

…But summer isn’t autumn, remember? Chicago isn’t Des Moines.  There are different people here with different priorities. And suddenly my priorities don’t fit in quite so well; I don’t feel quite as comfortable with being me. I suddenly feel like I have to have a Chicago Holly and a Des Moines Holly; a summer Holly and a school year Holly.

And that? Changing myself for people and places? I’m not quite sure where I picked it up, but that’s never been Holly in any city.

I don’t mind being by myself sometimes. I like being at coffee shops. I don’t need to drink…but sometimes I will have a beer at my coffee shop because I can. And I might do it on a Friday night because I’m pretty comfortable with that, too, because I know that sometimes, I will close down art center parties with adults and people I want to know and then wake up, mildly hung over, and spend the rest of the day entwined in Greek life. Because at least right now, that’s me, too.

I’m not in the city anymore, but I’m keeping this blog because I like hashing it out. I will not have a blog shtick that social-media experts insist blogs worth reading need. Enjoying the ride is enough for me.

And I’m going to Chicago at the end of the month. What I’ll miss, who I’ll please and how much one stupid weekend will alienate me have been issues I’ve dealt with for awhile. And would the Des Moines Holly kick the Chicago Holly for the decision I’m sticking to? Maybe. Give and take, like anything else. Will it be worth it because that’s what the plain old any-city Holly wants? Yep.

(Without fail, not what I intended. Post, sigh, slam.)