It has been exactly six years since Roberta and I bailed on Chicago. When we are sitting in the sunroom behind our suburban Charlotte home, enjoying the autumn breeze and a beer on a beautiful North Carolina night, I gotta tell you that we might as well be a million miles away from the Midwest.
Still, I miss plenty about Chicago, mostly the people we left behind. In honor of our six years away, here are a half-dozen people (and/or couples) that I dearly miss (in alphabetical order):
Phil Arvia ... My columnist counterpart (I was with the Copley Newspapers, he was at the Daily Southtown), Phil also eventually was chewed up and spit out by the brutal business known as newspaper journalism. He worked hard, he wrote wonderfully and he always had my back. Except when it came to golf. Then I was fair game, and he was quick to use his voluminous vocabulary to come up with ways to describe the delicate nuances of my game. (Shout-out to Tammy, as well.)
Darcia and Mike Brundidge ... They lived across the street from us on Bell Ave, their older son Troy was one of Ben's best friends, their younger son Chris used to shovel off our backyard basketball court so he and his buddies could play in the middle of winter. Good times. Even though the miles separate us now, we remain close to Darcia and Mike to this day.
Rick Gano ... My former AP Chicago colleague and one of my all-time favorite characters from the world of journalism. Funny, self-deprecating, poisonously sarcastic and far too hard-working (back when he was working). Also lovably neurotic. (Shout-out to Martha, too.)
Kristi and Jim Johnson ... I met Jim when I signed up to play softball in Minnesota about 1,000 years ago, and we became good friends. They moved to Detroit at about the same time we moved to Chicago, but eventually they came to their senses and joined us in the Chicago area. We didn't see them quite as often as we would have liked because they live in Grayslake, which I believe is just outside Winnipeg, but we do try to get together with them when we make the trip back.
Ben Nadel ... Yep, our little boy is still representin'. Except now our little boy is a fine 28-year-old man who makes us proud every day. He also has a great girlfriend, Sammi ... and if I'm not mistaken they're now past their 1-year mark together. Woo-hoo! What's extra cool is that Ben's presence in Chicago pretty much forces us to visit several times a year.
Zillions of Others ... I could have listed one more person, but then I would have been leaving out so many. And I'm too freakin' nice for that.
You also might notice that I didn't list a single Chicago sports figure. It wasn't my job to get close to the people I covered. I like to think most of us had mutual respect for each other. But for those who might not have liked me because of the stuff I wrote or the questions I asked ... to hell with 'em!