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Thank You Chicago

Dear Chicago,

I was standing in my kitchen, simply standing in my good-smelling and homey little kitchen on a lovely spring afternoon, when my husband heaved your name at me for the first time: “It’s Chicago!”

Obviously, “it” referred to his new job location, if he were to accept the offer of the multinational company he worked for.

CHICAGO. A crime novel, a thriller movie, a name that referred to a scary and cold city with tall buildings and blurry streets, dangerously associated with mafia gangsters and dark, disturbing stories. In my mind, trying to connect my two boys’ cute little faces with that name, trying to picture them living in that city, was like trying to place a whale in a Volkswagen. It just couldn’t fit. 

I had an instinctive clear-cut reaction: “Honey, you go, I’ll stay.”

Outside my kitchen window, I could hear birds chirping.

But here we are today, just a few months and a massive emotional roller coaster ride later…

I was well aware that life with you would be no “Little House on the Prairie”; all I knew was that your life was never simple, I knew that your crime rate remained terribly high, and I knew about all the social discrepancies you suffered from and still do today, as we speak.

But truth be told, you really caught me by surprise with the way you’ve embraced my apprehensions, understanding my confusion, addressing my concerns … Indeed, you blessed my family with a wonderful cocoon, surrounded by tree-lined streets and wide green parks. Everywhere we look, it is just warm, welcoming streets, beautiful brick homes, gorgeous cathedrals, lakes, beaches, museums, and even a zoo!

Dear lovely windy city, I believe that I owe you an apology. I was presumptuous and judgmental, and I thank you today for proving me wrong every step of the way. The fact is, I was proven wrong by every nice human being who smiled at me on the street just because they came across me, by every greeting neighbor who helped me feel at home and by every stranger who kindly showed me the way when my poor direction skills gave up on me.

The bottom line is: when we relocate to a different country (and in our case, a whole different continent!), not only do we bring our cultural background with us, but we actually carry our story and it lands with us in that new territory. Therefore, our personal experience of things, people, and events is tightly linked to that single particular story that makes us who we are. Honestly, I am thrilled today that my story just happened, one day, to lead me to you, of all cities and towns. Today, I am thanking every person who smiled at me, every friendly neighbor and every kind stranger who embraced my story and told me that I was welcome to continue writing it over here…

Because you see, outside my window, I can hear birds chirping.




My name is Maya Chehab and I am a mental health professional with expertise in several roles and responsibilities such as private clinical practice, school counseling, and psychosocial project consultancy. I am fluent in several languages: English, French, Arabic, and I speak a bit of Spanish. I have recently relocated with my family to Chicago. Being passionate about my work and goals achieved abroad, I decided to make the best out of this geographic move and started publishing specialized articles in different mental health themes, while in the process of having my education and experience certified in the State of Illinois.

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