While I moved to New York City on June 7, the lease on my room in Chicago isn’t up until the end of June. Since I knew I’d have to be back here for various reasons — the least of which, seeing the boys — I’ve waited until now to put things in storage. Friends will be coming in the morning to help me do just that. This is my last night sleeping in Chicago in a bed I own in a place for which I’ve paid rent. After tomorrow, I’ll be (more or less) homeless, 5-1/2 weeks away from my unemployment benefits being cut off completely. It’s a strange and scary place to be. As they say, shit’s getting real.
I’ve packed a large suitcase — eating the $25 baggage fee, but not without grumbling about it — and a carryon filled with clothes, makeup, shoes, etc. There’s more stuff in New York already, at my friend David’s place. I’ll continue to sleep on his futon and look for work and a place to live on a more permanent basis. What I’ll do if in 5-1/2 weeks I don’t have a job, I don’t know. I don’t think David would kick me out, but that’s also not exactly what he agreed to when I asked to stay with him while I got on my feet in NYC.
It’s weird tonight. I’m sick with a summer cold, which first made its appearance Friday afternoon. I’ve been taking medicine, drinking fluids, everything I’m supposed to do… though I’ve also been having to pack and spend time with the boys and generally try to sleep from time to time. It’s been a rough few days. Now I’m about to fall asleep in a “real bed” for the last time in who-knows-how-long. Everything is up in the air. Few things are for certain. I know I’m coming back to Chicago in two weeks to see the boys for the weekend. I know I have a place to live until the end of July. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.
Did I think I’d be almost-39 and in this sort of situation? No.
On the one hand, it’s liberating… putting everything I own into storage, save for three suitcases of belongings. Becoming a nomad. With nothing certain, almost anything is possible, right? Gosh, I hope so. Because otherwise I should be terrified instead of mildly scared and unsettled.
I’m curious to know how it will all work out. I have plans to continue what I’ve been doing: three hours a day of job-hunting, two hours a day of writing, the rest of the day spent going to meetings or walking or exploring my new home. Some days it’s easier than others. But I think that’s the case even if you have a billion dollars in the bank and aren’t sleeping on a friend’s futon in exchange for taking partial care of his diabetic cats. Life’s uncertain, any way you look at it.
In many ways, I wasn’t prepared for how final it would be, leaving this room vacant and taking all of my belongings out of this shared home. When I come back in two weeks, it will be to a hotel room — the boys begged me to get one with a swimming pool, and thankfully there are those to be had for not-too-expensive prices on the interwebs — and this will most definitely no longer be my home.
It’s a little sad along with the scary, leaving behind the place I’ve been since I was 16 years old. Twenty-two years ago, almost to the day, I arrived in Chicago (the suburbs) and couldn’t wait for my grown-up life to begin. I’ve made many, many mistakes over these two decades, some I could have anticipated and others I didn’t want to. Moving 782 miles away from my children isn’t something that comes easily or frivolously, though I imagine there are those who beg to differ.
I’m trying to remember how scared and lonely and unprepared for life I was when I arrived here 22 years ago. Some days, I feel exactly the same. Others, I can realize and remember the amazing experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve been blessed to meet. I never would have imagined that for myself, sitting in an apartment complex in Texas and wondering how I was going to get out, what I’d be as an adult. I know whatever is in store for me over the coming decades is likely equally beyond my imagination — even if it’s terrible, what’s to come, it’s still life, an experience, a process to learn from and through. No one — rich, poor, young, old — can know with any certainty much of anything. All we can do is make a decision to take the next steps forward. Even if we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel — and I rarely can — we can shine a light on the next step we need to take.
My next steps are a storage space, the airport, Harlem, NYC. After that, who knows? All I know today is this is my last night in this apartment, in this bed, in this city, like this. And I’m okay with that.