April 27, 2017
I realized today that I have a tradition of taking and posting a single photo of all of my luggage each time I move. It started when I moved (briefly) to Oxford in August, 2013, and since then I’ve just kept posting similar posts each time I’ve moved.
The photos are not exactly artistic or even very well shot, but each one holds a very clear memory and set of emotions for me. Each photo, each moment they represent, carries feelings of change, uncertainty, joy, sadness and, ultimately, hope.
I’ve spent a good majority of my life searching for home, always sure it was on the other side of a degree, a flight, a job, something. But in the last 6 months ‘home’ has been nothing but a fleeting ideal–moving from flats and temporary beds five times since September. And so I have taken one more photo, one more set of luggage in an empty room, as I prepare to move into my new apartment.
To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about this final move until, well, now. I knew it was happening, I’ve got a place to crash until we get the keys to the apartment on Sunday. But I’ve been so caught up in everything else that I hadn’t stopped to think that I’m moving again, much less how I was feeling about it.
To be fair, where I am living now was only a temporary living situation. I’ve been sleeping on my roommate’s air mattress (until said air mattress finally broke), waiting to be settled in. I didn’t really realize until now that I haven’t even thought of this place as home.
Chicago doesn’t feel like home to me, not yet. And where it took a while for Essex to feel like home for me, the hope that it would feel like home was always there.
I do have hope that Chicago will be home some day, too. It’s just a different kind of hope. Not the kind of hope you have when you expect that everything will be okay, but the kind of tired hope that comes with a feeling of uncertainty. When you don’t have that bottom-of-your-gut feeling that everything is going to be just great. When instead you’re not sure, you’re tired, and you cling to hope because that’s all that will stick.
May 5, 2017
One week has passed since I started drafting the post above. I never posted it, partially because this last week has been so busy. But I wanted to come back to it.
This week has been anything but easy. I’m still sleeping on an air mattress, the new apartment is barely unpacked, it’s been a difficult week at work, and to top it all off I’ve been sick for nearly two weeks. But this week has also been, in hindsight, exactly what I needed.
The apartment is still a mess, but I am no longer homeless. I have a place to call home. Each night I unpack a little bit more, and I am filled with the joy of knowing that I get to stay here for a little while longer.
Work has been difficult, but it has also been rewarding. I had to make some decisions that were, admittedly, a little scary for me. But I made them, and I am learning more and more that the team I work with is made up of people that care about me and support me as I continue to grow in my new role. This new job is nothing short of a challenge, and anyone who knows me will understand why that is exactly what I need.
Chicago might not feel like home yet, but the hope that I talked about earlier in this post? The kind I had in Colchester, where all I had to do was wait for things to fall into place? It’s starting to form in me now. I am still tired, but I am finding energy again. I can feel this place becoming okay. Becoming home. And I can see that, for the time being, I’m right where I need to be.