Here it is, the long awaited explanation! As many of you know I moved to Chicago roughly one week ago and to many it seems abrupt. You are mostly correct! BUT, it wasn’t entirely insanity. Hear me out:
Upon graduating college last year, I was dead set on moving to New York City. I had job interviews lined up, had apartment hunted — the whole nine yards, but with the help of my loving father I was reminded that I had never paid a bill or managed my own life and therefore was choosing an impossibly hard path. Upon that realization I decided to postpone my inevitable big-city life and move to a more reasonable option: Memphis. Memphis was wonderful and hard, simultaneously. I learned so much about myself and what I am capable of while also struggling to make roots, form healthy relationships, or feel at home. I won’t go into detail of all of the hardships, but my situation was not ideal. However, without Memphis and my time there I would have never had the courage to make such a big move.
Despite not feeling like it was a good fit, I had zero intentions of moving. I had a best friend living around the corner, another best friend was moving to Memphis soon, I just started a relationship with someone a short distance away, work relationships were on the mend… for all practical purposes things were looking up! And for the most part, they were. There were a few disappointments, as is part of life. My very best friend and I had planned to live together in Memphis, but decided against it in order to salvage our friendship as we had never been roommates and weren’t entirely sure we could handle that much togetherness (lol). The guy that had swept in so gracefully turned out to not be who I thought he was at all. My job had not followed through on the promises made in order for me to stay another year. It felt like one thing after another was unravelling quickly.
In the midst of all of this comes family vacation to, you guessed it, Chicago! I flew in and met my parents and sisters and we had the absolute best time navigating taxis, rain, amazing food, shopping, and all the Chicago “must-do’s”. Being in the city immediately brought back every longing I had in college to be a city girl. It felt like a smaller (but not by much) version of NYC. To add to the excitement, my longterm roommate from college actually moved to Chicago right out of school and still lives and works here. At the end of our trip with the family, I stayed an extra day to explore some more with her and we had the time of our life. She jokingly mentioned how fun it would be if I moved here and we became roommates again and I don’t think either of us knew at the time just how much weight that statement held.
I flew home that weekend and immediately hopped online just to gauge the job options. It took me months to land a job in Memphis, so in my head best case scenario had me moving to Chicago at the end of this school year. I applied for several, mostly for kicks and giggles. I even looked up FBI opportunities (I’m on a criminal Minds kick right now okay) to no avail. Little did I know, in three days I would have already completed 8 phone interviews for teaching positions and have a scheduled flight paid for by a school system in Chicago to have me tour and do an in person interview that following week. It was HAPPENING. In 72 hours I was handed an opportunity to completely start over and try my hand at a life in the city. Every door that I could have possibly needed to pass was flying open.
By Friday of that week (5 days since I had flown home), I had gotten out of my lease, quit my job, broke up with the guy I thought I knew, and chopped my hair off. That last one was an emotional decision, but I think I’m warranted at least one of those in the midst of this, right? Don’t worry. I regret it. Lesson learned. With all of this change, keep in mind I still do not have a job in Chicago. I don’t have a job anywhere, for that matter! But reflecting on how smooth everything had been laid out already, it truly felt like this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing. So I did.
Fast forward a few days, I fly to Chicago on the following Monday evening (8 days since I flew home from vacation), and by Tuesday night I was an employed math learning specialist in Chicago, Illinois. I started district training the very next day. I flew home at the end of the week where I met my best friend in Memphis to pack and move everything I owned. Mind you, I did not have a single thing packed nor had I accumulated a single box. In exactly 36 hours, we found and packed boxes, had a yard sale, and loaded the entirety of my apartment into my car and a shipping container. Alone. We DID THE THING. I like to joke that I definitely broke up with my help a week too early. LOL. I guess that adds to our strong-independent-women-ness, right? By Monday morning, I had turned in my keys and was officially on the road to Chicago with Opal (my baby kitty daughter) in tow.
Upon arrival, I squeezed everything I had fit in my car into my now roommates one bedroom/one bathroom apartment. Here’s the punchline: She has two cats. I have one. For those who struggle with math, that makes 3 cats. THREE. 2/3 of our 900 sqft apartment is taken over by litter, cat food, and cat toys. It’s a whole cat farm, y’all.
Anyway, I officially drove in on Monday night (15 days since vacation). I was there. In Chicago. Permanently. I took Tuesday to myself to catch up on sleep, lots of sleep, then tried to unpack what little I had with me at the time. That’s when it hit me – I just uprooted my entire life. Talk about a full blown melt down. All the tears. For an hour I panicked and cried wondering what in the WORLD have I just done. I couldn’t admit it to my family (until just now) because I couldn’t admit that this may have been the most insane thing anyone has ever done.
But, then it passed. Just as quick as it came the fear and worry left and has yet to return. I have immersed myself in my new school trying to learn the new (and VERY different) views and ways of life here. I’ve spent countless hours with coworkers that are as new as I am and others who could do this in their sleep. I’ve been overwhelmed, excited, exhausted, anxious. Every emotion I’ve ever known and some I didn’t know existed have surfaced in this transition.
At 23, I’ve lived in four states, dated (a lot) of not so great people, made some absolutely AWESOME friends, rediscovered myself, gained a boatload of independence, and now relocated 15 hours away from my Alabama home. To say that I am proud of what I’ve accomplished would be an understatement. Am I nervous about this school year? Absolutely, but teaching is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. It’s hard in Mobile, Alabama. It’s hard in Memphis, Tennessee, and it’s hard in Chicago, Illinois. So here’s to taking on the challenge in one of the greatest places I have ever been.