Ex-Chicagoans share their post-leaving stages of grief

Chicago The flipside to living in the greatest city in the world (hahaha, you thought we were talking about you, NYC? That's adorable.) is that anywhere else you move to will pale in comparison. So that you know what to expect if it happens to you or someone you love, we asked 10 recent ex-Chicagoans how they managed to cope with leaving for lesser cities such as LA, NYC, DC, SF, and New Orleans. Here are what they call the "seven stages of grief".

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"I convinced myself that ripping the city off like a band-aid was better than making it a long, drawn-out divorce and custody battle." - Adam, New Orleans

"I had gotten to the point where I was having my groceries delivered by Peapod and ordering Leona's up to twice a day, rather than braving the weather outside. I knew then, it was time to get out." – Nikki, Los Angeles

"I left one week after the first Polar Vortex blast of negative gazillion [degrees]. As I said goodbye to my life and friends, any semblance of tears froze to my face in less than 10 nanoseconds retrograde. I needed little convincing to board the plane." - Megan, Los Angeles

"At least Ventra will not wrongfully take money out of my account ever again. I'm pretty sure." - Jesse, New York City


"I spent my last night in Chicago at a New Year's dance party in Logan Square where a bunch of neckbeards were dancing to oldies. That memory has been overwritten because now I live in Brooklyn and every day is a dance party with neckbeards." -Ryan, New York City

"I put ketchup on my hotdogs right there in the streets, for all to see!" - Hayley, San Francisco

"I removed myself from Sarpino's e-mailing list and blocked the thousands of weekly improv show invites on Facebook." - Jesse, New York City

"I simply disappeared, like a Capone problem." - Mike, Los Angeles


"The pizza and hot dogs in SoCal are atrocious, and there is basically no public transportation -- I bought a car and had an accident within the first five months. I had to sign up with DirecTV to watch the Bears without being surrounded at a bar by Charger, Niners, and Green Bay fans (they spread like a virus)." - Kent, Aliso Viejo, California

"Luckily, resentment is also a form of currency in NYC." - Greg, New York City

"Everyone in LA self-tans their pubes. Everyone in Chicago lets their pubes grow all Winter for crotch-al warmth (like a Penguin nesting its egg)." – Mike, Los Angeles

"I have been angry three solid times, and all of them involved a bus being at least 20 minutes late. Also, women feel the need to don full-makeup and heels to go shopping for toilet paper at Target." Nikki, Los Angeles

Flickr/AntoniO BovinO

"If only I had a gotten a job on the set of Transformers or Man of Steel. I could’ve gone to some fancy industry party in the Hancock Tower where Bill Murray randomly shows up." - Bret, Washington D.C.

"If only the Cubs had gotten a cute, cuddly mascot a few years ago, it might have melted my heart just enough to stay in Chicago." - Jesse, New York City

"If only I had gotten that job at Tony's Burritos slingin' tacos and quesadillas to drunks (like myself)." - Kent, Aliso Viejo, California

"If only I’d found Logan Hardware sooner." - Mike, Los Angeles

Sean Cooley

"I miss opening up the RedEye on the train and flipping straight to the map that marked the violent crime incidents over the weekend. I'd make circles to see how often my apartment or favorite haunts fell in that deadly venn diagram." - Adam, New Orleans

"There's something about being in Downtown Chicago that just always feels like a very richly made '30s gangster movie. Most of LA is like your Mom's old bedroom at your Grandma's house." - Megan, Los Angeles

"Life isn’t the same without the constant reminders of being in the Midwest. The snow here isn’t lake-effect. Drunk bros don't yell 'Rock Chalk!' at me when I wear my KU hat. Above all, I miss that Chicagoans are relaxed about eating well and getting fat." - Greg, New York City

"There's so much I miss, but the late-night food delivery is at the top of my list. I'm forced to think ahead for the fourth meal, and mama don't plan that way. I'm so hungry." - Nikki, Los Angeles

Flickr/Ron Cogswell

"Knowing that I'll never again have to push through Wrigleyville during TBOX does help me sleep at night."  - Hayley, San Francisco

"Every time I have a slice of pizza that isn't as thick as a cinderblock and contains less butter and cheese than the entire state of Wisconsin, I accept my choices. I am OK with not having Type-2 diabetes before I am 35." - Ryan, New York City

"I got an upper-back tattoo of The Bean to scale." - Mike, Los Angeles

"I cope by stalking my Chicago friends via social media, sending them text messages too late at night because of the time difference, and annoying my boyfriend by trying out local hot-spots, then saying, 'This reminds me of Guthrie's, but without all the Midwest charm.'" - Nikki, Los Angeles


"Sometimes if I walk by the right distorted reflective surface, I get a 'Bean' flashback and my hand instinctively reaches for my phone to take a Facebook profile pic." - Bret, Washington D.C.

"From time to time, I'll be sitting in a bar and two dudes will start getting into a heated argument. I'll close my eyes, pour a little beer on my shirt, and pretend it's the Red Line during the cross-town classic." - Adam, New Orleans

"Every once in a while, when I am ordering a hot dog from a street vendor, I wait for them to scream vulgarities and make me feel like I'm nothing. But it never comes. I guess not every place can be the Wiener Circle." - Jesse, New York City

"Somewhere, there's a party trolley with a crack in the back window, caused by me mooning strangers on a Friday night. I feel like I've left a real legacy out there." - Ryan, New York City

Thanks to
Adam Stephenson, Bret Dorman, Greg Iwinski, Mike Glazer, Ryan Craggs, Kent Bamberger, Nikki Pierce, Hayley Nystrom, Megan Mercier,and Jesse Leahy for their words of wisdom.

Sean Cooley is Thrillist's Chicago Editor, and he knows to never get involved in a land war in Asia. Follow him @SeanCooley.