It’s almost that time: On July 13, I will officially have been a Chicago resident for one year. And...I still don’t have a job! Well, technically, I have two—indentured editorial servant/fact checking slave and bitter, clumsy, eye-rolling server of beer (and other various food and beverages).
So let me rephrase that statement. I still don’t have the job I want. You know, the one that pays more than $4.85 (or nothing) an hour. The one where I don’t get asked what my favorite pizza topping is. But it’ll happen sooner or later. RIGHT? RIGHT?
Anyway. Now is probably the time when I should reflect on the last year and encourage myself by how much I’ve “grown” and such.
Flashback to July 2008. After four hours of driving my jam packed little Neon across the most boring stretch of highway in the United States, I arrived at the much anticipated 46B exit. I promptly turned the wrong way and drove 15 minutes in the wrong direction down Diversey. My dad arrived at my apartment in the U-Haul as I was making this little journey and was clearly freaked that I was MIA. (Luckily I had a whole moving crew to prevent the major freak out that would have occurred had it only been Dad and me. Debbie, Jay, and his friend Stu were there to help maintain.)
By the time I finally found Fletcher street, I was drenched in sweat (no A/C on an insanely hot day coupled with nervous Alison=sweat) and terrified that I had permanently traumatized Layla and Mufasa, based on their incessant meowing and panting from the cat carrier in the back seat.
I finally parked my car—poorly, and in a tow zone—and ran to meet Jose, the building manager who was going to give me my keys. When he handed over the key chain with my seven keys, I almost burst into tears. What the hell was I doing? Why do I need seven keys? Why was everything in Spanish?
But by the time all of my stuff had been safely moved from the U-Haul to my apartment, I calmed down a bit. Dad and Stu went off to drop off the U-Haul, and Debbie arranged my entire kitchen while Jay and I journeyed to find beer. I was already warming up to Debbie prior to the move, but that day she really won me over. She saw the look on my face when Jose handed me my five million keys, and from then on, she took over the role that was clearly needed for moving day—arranging all the dishes and food in the most sensible places in the kitchen, keeping my dad from flipping out, helping me calm down my terrified cats, and not complaining when Jay and I left her in my disaster zone of an apartment so we could pick up beer. I think that was the day I finally accepted that it was okay to like Debbie. I wasn’t betraying my mom by enjoying her presence. It was a nice feeling.
I’ll spare you the rest of the details about moving day. Since that day, so much has happened. A lot of which belongs safely in my journal, not posted online. But I finally feel like I actually live here, that I’m not just visiting for an indefinite amount of time. I’ve still freaked out countless times, calling Dad or Jay crying about whatever meltdown I was having that week, and at least once a week, I question my decision to live here.
But I did it. I’m here.
I might have a negative balance in my checking account right now, I might have lost my salary and benefits at IU, I might miss my family enough to induce camp-like stomach aches on a regular basis, but I don’t regret it. Sooner or later I WILL get a good job. Then I can quit focusing on the negative all the damn time and think about all I’ve gained from living in Chicago. The ability to parallel park, for one. Maybe I still don’t know what direction is north 80 percent of the time—but at least I know I have the guts to be a small town Hoosier lost in this giant city. And waiting tables blows, let’s be honest, but I’ve made some amazing friends while working at that bar.
So there you have it. It’s been a crazy year. So now I am raising my Diet Dr. Pepper can in a toast to my Mac and myself—cheers to Chicago, and here’s to another year of awesomely awkward adventures!
I. AM. A. GEEK.