This Tuesday marked my two-week anniversary of living in Illinois. Saying that makes me feel like a middle school girl gushing about her first ‘real’ boyfriend; the one she’s afraid to kiss and can’t accompany bowling unless her entire geography class is present. (Sidenote: I never had a middle school boyfriend. I did, once, sneeze-fart in 8th grade science in front of the two most popular boys in school and then tried to cover it up by saying, “Well, that was a weird sneeze.” This does not keep me up at night.)
No one bought me flowers for the occasion, but my roommate does have an over-sized jar of M&M’s that she has presented as open-invite, so I was happy.
I was beginning to feel I’d overstayed my welcome back in Missouri. I had graduated months earlier, many of my people had moved away, and I was–toward the end–living with two friends who happened to be experiencing their first week of marriage (may God BLESS & KEEP them for the good they did by me). I was ready to explore new territory on my (Google) map and to really start LIVING, in all capital letters!
This itch to get moving, this twinkle in my eye that romanticizes the road ahead, often causes me to overlook the challenges of uprooting. I forgot, for one, that I’d now require that Google Map to get to the grocery store, or the library, or home from a run. I recently drove around for 20 minutes hoping to buy mascara at an Ulta, only to wind up at a huge warehouse building that did not look ready to accept customers. I had driven to the Ulta distribution center as opposed to one of their storefronts. I accepted defeat and promptly turned my car toward home.
I forget, also, about friends, and how much I like having them nearby. I’m currently living in the suburbs of Chicago in the childhood home of my roommate from freshman year of college. Her parents are doing us a huge solid by not charging a rental fee while we chase after job opportunities and look for an apartment in the city that isn’t completely out of the 90s, or our price range. It’s really great to be with a family that makes me feel welcome, and to live with Beth again! But, being that we’re an hour out of the city, it’s an awkward time to make new friends. Do I hang out with people I meet in the ‘burbs, just to ditch ‘em once I’ve achieved my ultimate destiny as cosmopolitan, city-girl? Do I pursue events with friends in the city, perpetually tacking on, “but only if I can sleep on your couch,” to every plan? Do I listen to the girl-power country song that encourages me to be my own best friend, and stick with me until the end? (These are all awful ideas. Know that I’m workshopping my friendship strategies.)
Mostly, I forgot that moving is the easy part. Yes–convincing eight friends to give up their Sunday evening to help me load bedroom furniture into a U-Haul trailer so that I could do a solo road trip from Missouri to Illinois; waving goodbye to my three of the greatest friends as they wept on their front porch; regularly pulling over to a gas station and parking my extended vehicle in a spot I wouldn’t have to reverse out of so I could send “I’m alive” texts to a lengthy list of relatives; turning my trailer in only to be told that it had done damage to my car because of improper installment, and I was lucky it didn’t pull my bumper off mid-trip; that was all the easy part.
I got myself to a new place–with no lack of encouragement and help from others, I’ll include–and so begins the uphill climb of establishing a life here, combatting a similar self-doubt as plagued my entire first year of college, and maintaining enough self-awareness to know that my ‘arrival’ isn’t the antidote to my restlessness. So continues the endless process of job applications, of wondering how one gets an adult apartment without a credit score, and nodding my head in a glazed ‘understanding’ every time someone new tells me what part of the city they call home.
It’s time to hit the ground running, y’all. Even if it’s a twelve-minute mile. That’s still technically a run. Yeah, I can do that.