Well, I've made my decision: I'm going with School #2. Which means, actually, that I'm staying put in College City. Everything about the program is a good fit for me, and academically the choice just makes sense. Despite the fact that School #1 is a big-name fancy schmancy university, the graduate program I want isn't on the same level as School #2.
The hardest part was telling my dad, who really really really wanted me to come back closer to home. In not so many words, he basically said that he is uneasy about letting me stay out here by myself, and isn't convinced I'll be able to swing it. He also succeeded in making me feel pretty terrible about the money part, reminding me that even though tuition and cost of living is much cheaper out here, we've poured thousands into doctors' bills and plane trips back and forth. Plus the fact that my mom took time off from work two years ago when I was really sick, so we had to go with one less income for a while. So, hearing all that from him hurt, but I think it was partly my dad's way of expressing I'm worried about you but don't know how to come out and say it.
But, the decision part is done. And I'm incredibly relieved. Now I can start looking at apartments, contacting professors about research positions, and planning my summer. Of course I'm nervous and stressed about the transitions ahead, but I am SO ready to move onto this next chapter in my life.