Monday, October 19, 2009

Moving Out, Growing Up

When I was 18 years old I moved out of my parents house and into my own apartment. I loved home but I wanted to be on my own. I rented an apartment with two girlfriends in the Pocket Area, and I remember loving every minute of it. I felt grown up and independent, and I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Then within a year, I had the opportunity and the financial assistance from my parents to invest in a house. This made me feel a little more independent, but also opened my eyes to the expense and the responsibility that comes with owning a home. Fast forward a couple years, I have lived back at home with my parents, moved three quarters of the way across the country and now live in a charming shoebox. When I came to Chicago I moved in to a home with two roommates. It was big, clean and comfortable. It was just what I needed to get acclimated to my new city. But time had passed and I was ready and in need of my own space. The search was on for a place I could make my own. Now as a preface, living in a big city... location is everything, and it seems that as the location gets better the apartments get smaller! :) But I was determined to find something in a safe and lively area so that I could walk out my door and find something to do. I didn’t need a whole lot of space, it just needed to feel like home. I looked at about 10 places, which might not seem so bad except for the fact that it was all via bus or train or taxi. It was the first time since I moved to Chicago that i REALLY. MISSED. MY. CAR. Not only that but all the studios were extremely small, with few windows, and I felt claustrophobic even without any furniture. I thought I would never find something that fit, and so I kind of gave up. That day as I sat at my desk, I felt stressed and anxious... my boss came out of his office and said... “remember that paper I told you about?... Check their classifieds. You’ll find something” So I did, and the first place I saw, looked like the best thing yet. I went after work that night to look at the place, and as the taxi dropped me off, it felt more like a delivery into a new world. The houses were quaint, their were people my age walking around, the park was close by, restaurants, shops, grocery stores... looked good already! I looked at the apartment which was by far the cutest and most charming. Their were surrounding patios, laundry on site, a fitness room, and sweet little old man who would soon be my landlord. He is probably in his early 70’s and reminds me of my grandfather. Kind and hardworking, and very wise. It felt like home instantly. As we were sitting signing the paperwork, he told me... “I can see in your eyes that you are not happy. This place, this neighborhood... the people, it will be a new life for you Amy. A new page.” I had maybe known this man a total of 20 minutes and he was already consoling me. I guess it’s true that I’m an open book. After I handed over the lease and the check to secure my spot, he walked me around the complex and introduced me to several of my new neighbors. All of who were extremely nice and more welcoming than one could expect. I was feeling more at ease, very relieved that the search was finally over. Now my only challenge would be finding and affording the furniture that I didn’t have, and actually moving my belongings from one place to another. Without access to a car. I went round and round trying to decide how I would make it all work, and it became more obvious than ever that I do not like to be in that “unsure” place in life. I also do not like asking for help or letting on that I might not know what the hell I’m doing! I made lists and budgets, and made a calendar mapping out my schedule and the orchestration of what would end up being the hardest move, and most challenging two weeks of my life. Moving? What could be so bad about that?” I know what you’re thinking... it can be done. But when you factor in the following; no car, no furniture, no bed, and MOST importantly, no parents... you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Needless to say I am not going to go into all the details, it would be a book in itself, and a lot of complaining that no one needs or wants to hear. But, looking back and reflecting on this time has really made me realize that this time, this move, I did on my own. Save for my dear friend Zach, THANK GOD was conveniently visiting that week, I was at it alone. I was forced to make my own decisions, and deal with them. I was forced to ask for help, even though it makes me extremely uncomfortable (that I will leave to the shrink!) Ha! I have also learned that what I thought was independence before, was really just a cushioned existence that my parents afforded me. I have always been thankful for their help. But now, I am more in awe of their generosity. Until they are not around to bail us out, and drive over to help, we’re never really alone. Here in Chicago... I am alone. I think the reality of it is most of the time when we make decisions we are thinking only about the obvious. “I’ll move away, take a good job to make money and advance my career.” What I didn’t consider is what that really meant. What I didn’t realize is that what I was really here for was to change, to deal with uncomfortable things. To grow up.
And so I’m here now, in my little shoebox with my little refrigerator and little stove, and it feels nice. I can walk just about anywhere, I can see my bed from my couch :) and I feel so much better. I feel settled and independent. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a whole new shade of lonely sometimes, but it’s those moments that I seem to learn and grow the most. Fall is in full bloom here in Chicago. The leaves are changing the air is cool and crisp, and it feels amazing. I will be sure to post some photos soon. My dear sweet mother is coming to Chicago next week, and I know she will help me nest and make it feel simply perfectly like home. Until then my friends... lots of love and cozy fall wishes from a semi grown-up girl in the Chi!

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