Well, if you’re an avid fan of mine, you may have noticed there’s a couple months of a gap in my blog posts. I’ve heard your clamor; I’ve heard your outcry – and, much like the great franchises of Jurassic Park and Magic Mike, I’m BACK. The reason for my brief hiatus is that I’ve been busy transitioning from my life as a glorified teen into my life as an adult-like human woman. I like, “got a job” with a “salary” and “health insurance” and “moved to another state” and “started a 401(K)” and “registered to vote” and shit like that.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve watched a lot of The Golden Girls, which led me to believe that when you drop everything you’ve ever known to start your next act in a whole new city, you instantly find sweet digs, kooky but great friends, and lots of local romance, and while you wait for your next wacky excursion you just hang out in the kitchen with a sassy Italian immigrant and eat lots of cheesecake. I knew that in reality, I probably wouldn’t find that in my pilot episode, so to speak, which was fine. Now I’m kind of wondering if I’ll even find it in my first season.
When I left Illinois on May 31st, the last thing I did was eat at Subway with my parents. I got in the car, and on my way to Wisconsin (I know, when I talked about moving, I know, you weren’t expecting a journey so epic and arduous as northern Illinois to southern Wisconsin), I passed by my favorite used bookstore and wondered if I had time to pop in. Then it kind of dawned on me – this was my last day, at least for quite a while, of familiarity. My last day of feeling at home and belonging somewhere I’d been for a long time. No more Christmas Break. No more Summer Vacation. From now on, when I say “I’m going home,” I don’t really mean the house where my parents and brother and sweet little dog live or the town where I made the best friends I’ve ever had.
Of course, I know I’ll always have a home wherever my parents are. But my mom would never refer to my grandma’s house as “home.” And I know it sounds like such a simple thing, but I suddenly saw that I was really leaving my childhood behind as I drove away. A day that started so normal – I was staying at a friend’s house, I slept in, I made coffee, ate breakfast, watched a show, packed my bag – turned out to be a turning point.
Maybe I’m giving this a little too much gravitas, but since I have not yet established myself as the Blanche Devereaux of Madison, I feel a little justified in my sad feelings. I’m up to my eyeballs in tasks and expectations at my new job. I spent my first three weeks living alone in a hotel – and now I live alone in an apartment. I know absolutely no one here. I’m a terrible driver on unfamiliar roads and they’re suddenly all unfamiliar so I’ll probably die in a wreck. I’ve gotten kind of chubby. It’s a bit of a letdown.
See, when I imagined myself starting my “new life,” I had this vision of me instantly excelling at work, breezily making friends, quickly establishing my local haunts, all of which come readily equipped with a Cheers-like set of regulars (OK, I seriously have to stop watching the Hallmark Channel late at night), getting asked out on a date by the first guy I talk to, and being really skinny and blonde, buying fresh produce at the Farmer’s Market right after my ten mile run. So, on one hand, it’s good to hold on to that vision because that’s the person I want to be, I guess. And, I did dye my hair blonde, so…check! But, on the other hand…seriously? That stuff takes time, and mentally acting like it wouldn’t kind of set myself up for disappointment. The reality is, I’m lonely. I don’t have anyone to talk to. I don’t know where to go to do the things I want to do. And I can’t help but think what I’d be doing if I were home – which, funnily enough, still means my parents’ home. My mom and I would be going to Kroger at midnight, buying healthy foods to make our summer diet more fun. I’d be running on my favorite routes from high school cross country. I’d be staying up late with my brother, watching those rat bastard liars the Golden Girls as we work on Infernally Hard (actual title) crossword puzzles together. We would be playing our favorite ’80s board games together after my dad came home at night. My dog would be sleeping in my bed with me. We’d maybe take a family vacation. I’d be working at Wal Mart or something. Instead, I’m watching Snapped: Killer Couples marathons at night and spending the day at a job where I don’t know my co workers and feel in way over my head.
And that’s where I am. There’s no big “but then I realized…” or “but you know what?” moment. I’m living in that struggle right now. I wish I had more of a resolution to this story, but in reality – unlike in the TV arcs my generation might be a tad more familiar with – life doesn’t tend to resolve, at least not in 30 minutes minus commercials. Hopefully, one day I’ll realize I’m 51% happy. Then, hey, you know, I’ll still have problems, but I’ll be more happy than not.
In the meantime though, I am focusing on what I can control. I can work on my writing, my health, and my creativity. Probably my driving, too, while I’m at it. I can check out cool places – even just like, one new place a week. And if it’s terrible and weird by myself, eh, whatever, right? I can’t make people like me or want to date me, but I can make myself a better person. I can make my life a little sweeter and happier. I can go see Inside Out by myself and sob the whole time and tell a group of tweens to shut up because I’m trying to have a moment.
And in the midst of everything, I have the choice to see living in the struggle as positive. Believe me, it’s tough – it’s tough to be 22, a time in my life where the world should be a feast, and feel like I’m missing out on absolutely everything. But, just when I think, oh my goodness, I’ve fucked up my life and listlessly become the person my parents and the people around me wanted me to be, something happens. And it reminds me I’m powerful, I’m strong, and I’m in charge. And, I’m 22! The world is a feast, but I have a long time to take advantage of it. Maybe now, it’s better for me to hunger and thirst. And little morsels – like being able to see my friends, beautiful weather, pop punk, good books, Netflix, and the Chicago Cubs’ red hot season – so sweet that feel me with such gratitude for this lovely life, will fill me until then. I’ll close with these words from a letter from one of the most wonderful friends I know:
“You are the most courageous of all my friends – even me. We all scrambled to find a way to live somewhat comfortably post-graduation but you jumped into the great-unknown alone. And I know that can be a double edged sword but I believe you are the type of person to succeed in this situation…you are not the kind of person to settle and take what she can get.”
Hell no, I’m not! Death, creep ever closer – I’m ready to face my future!