This post was originally going to be titled “When Shit Hits the Fan,” but time and perspective steered me away from the dramatic, as usual. More on the stressed mindset that was leading to that title later. As my family and some friends know, I moved (back) to Nashville this week. Away from home, possibly forever (cries). It was so different from going to college. Granted, moving to college is a whole other story of adjustment anxiety for me, but when you go to college at least you know you’ll be home for breaks and guaranteed at least the big holidays, and for most of those things it’s at least a week at home at a time. Plus, there’s a million programs and people-meeting activities you’re thrown into to distract you from the fact that your parents just left you in a place where you don’t know ANYONE and now you’re supposed to figure your life out. But this was different. This time, I moved not knowing for sure when I’ll be home again, or how long I’ll be able to stay when I do visit from here on out, because adulthood with a full-time, year-round job (important side note, I’m quite excited about my job! It just hasn’t started yet so there’s a lot of thinking time).
Moving is kind of a loose term for me at the moment, because I arrived in Nashville with all my stuff but without a new permanent address to put it in. If we talked in the past couple of weeks it is likely that I let you in on that stressor- I hope I didn’t overshare or dump too much tension on you in the moment. Anyway, I start work next week, and apartment hunting from a distance was quite challenging. Thanks to an amazing friend in town, I wasn’t totally unproductive on that front and I’m happy to say the process is moving forward. I *believe* I will have a more permanent roof over my head before I start work, thank goodness. Thanks to another amazing friend and her roommates, I have a place to stay until I can move into my apartment. It was a major comfort when I left home to know I had somewhere to sleep in town, with familiar faces nearby providing support.
Moving away from home this time brought on an interesting sadness for me. As I drove away I wasn’t just thinking about how scary going off on my own was or wondering when I’d be home again; I started to play back what about home would make me miss it, which led me to think a lot about what I valued about my upbringing that I really want my potential future kids to have. Example: my parents made friends with the neighbors, so all the kids in the neighborhood would play together and we would have these weekly happy hours and yearly block parties as a community that were really special. Having that group of families who consistently got together created this safe space where we kids could run around and have fun knowing where the parents were and that we were free to roam the block. Even though most of the families aren’t in touch anymore since we all moved away, I know having that backbone of community contributed to shaping me as a person. Shout out, Aberdeen Drive/Lake Drive South originals!
Anyway, as I drove out of my mom’s driveway (into a wonderful downpour that of course lasted all the way around Chicago, the most white knuckle part of the trip) I had one of those country song moments, realizing I was the person with the car packed up and leaving home. There were tears as I prayed for safe driving and an apartment and a smooth adjustment, but eventually I stumbled on an ’80s station on the radio and everything was okay. I also took the route that goes past my sister in Champaign, and spontaneously detoured to eat lunch with her for one last strand of home before leaving Illinois. (Thanks for the JJ’s, bro). I think that was kind of the closure I needed, having one last in-person family connection on Leaving Day and being reminded that my family will be behind me and connected to me no matter the time or distance. That’s the comfort I think we all desire probably for all of life and I’m lucky to have that. Also, thank you creators of cell phones because being able to either panic call for adulthood advice or homesickness relief or just to catch up on life and family updates is about to come in clutch in the next few weeks.
So there’s the life update, but now for the learning update/reason I titled this what I did. Last weekend, in the midst of family events and saying goodbye to relatives in many different ways, moving was on my mind and I was getting increasingly wound up. The stressful part mostly came from my car, which is a great car that originally was my grandpa’s, got me through high school and joined me for my last year of college, and will probably last quite awhile, but requires a bit of maintenance. There were safety concerns which had expensive recommended fixes, and I didn’t feel confident taking it to Nashville because I thought more maintenance needs would come around soon and I didn’t want to worry about my car when I was settling in to work. But I also didn’t want to take the plunge of buying a new car because I haven’t started work yet, my apartment would already be a big expense on the front end, etc. The end of last week and much of the weekend involved me 1. coming to terms with the fact that it probably wasn’t worth it to fix my car when there were other big repairs on the horizon and I could use that repair money toward a newer, safer car instead; 2. searching to the ends of the internet for a newer used car with the perfect combination of factors; 3. visiting car dealerships and test driving and almost purchasing a car, only to have it fall through; and finally, 4. accepting my stepmom’s very generous offer that I could drive her car down to Nashville to delay my car search, while my dad would drive my old car back and forth from the airport for work. Then, after I’m settled in to work, I can start the car search again and find something that’s really right and not rushed.
This whole thing stressed me out more than necessary, and I think it mostly has to do with wanting to know the plan, and knowing which steps I need to take to make things happen. When a clear route to Nashville, car-wise and housing-wise, did not exist a week or even a day before I left, it was like my head kept spinning more and more with the panic of not knowing and my nerves kept bending further to accommodate all of the unknowns. I wanted to be present with my family for the last few days at home, to focus on more important matters than my move, but I was distracted. Then suddenly it was time to say goodbye to my aunt, dad, stepmom, and sister and I realized how small of a deal the details are. While in my head all my plans for how I pictured my move back to Nashville were falling apart and I was embarrassed to not be able to tell people everything was set for when I got here, there my family was, comforting and reassuring and having sentimental moments with me of realizing I am on to a new phase. They’ve all been where I am, in different ways, and they instinctively found the right balance of letting me vent and verbalize my worries, and also giving me advice about action steps I could take about some of those worries. (@fam sorry for being a mess last weekend!) That’s what I love about family- they’re more likely than friends to see you at your most shambly and they still have to accept you. On Monday, my mom came home, saw how stressed I was about leaving home and not having an apartment, and calmly recommended that we go get some dinner and make a run to the store for some house supplies I would need. It was the perfect way to give us room to talk about what was going on (as well as other normal life stuff) and share a nice meal, and the store run also helped me feel objectively productive toward the move. Shout out to a top-notch mom who is one of my best friends. Please move south ASAP.
Every loop that came my way, like car confusion and housing going back and forth, and not being able to fit everything in the car, made me bend a different way. Here’s what it’s like in my head in anxious seasons: “Oh look over here, that’s something to worry about,” *in the middle of figuring out what to do about that, turns around* “Wait no, over here, this is a much bigger deal and requires fixing and answers NOW,” *freaks out that there are some things I can’t do until I’m physically in town, vows to stop worrying,* *person asks simple, caring question about move,* “OH MY GOSH I DON’T KNOW THAT YET I’M NOT A RESPONSIBLE ADULT I CAN’T DO IT.” And so on. I bend over backwards to try to plan everything out in my head, on paper, with other people who have done it before, until I’m bent so out of shape with stress that I’m almost stuck. It’s great that we humans are bendy and that it usually doesn’t come to a breaking point, but constantly bending when you don’t know where the finish line is can get exhausting and scary. A lot of it for me comes from just being stuck in my own head, and when I write out the worries or talk it out with someone it calms me down a ton. Listening to familiar music helps me virtually without fail to calm the heck down and remember life is about so much more than having perfect details figured out. Life keeps moving forward even when you don’t think you’re ready. Thankfully I didn’t bend to a breaking point this time, but that’s not to say it wasn’t a painful few days. And it might continue to be hard and I might feel alone in it for a little while, but that’s okay. Because every time, without fail, we come out the other side. The world keeps turning, traffic keeps moving, donuts keep tasting good, sneezing keeps bringing relief. People show up to help in big and little ways, answers come right when we need them, and eventually a new routine settles in. Plus, now that I’m in town, I can go sit in my favorite spots around town or on my Alma Mater’s campus and at least trick my body into thinking everything’s normal as I face the new things one at a time.
So this week, I’m thankful for bending and not breaking and for helpful friends and family. Even just getting a check-in text or you picking up the phone when I call with a question or update brings immeasurable comfort. Having people around me to remind me it’s okay to feel nervous, to remind me to have fun, and to promise they’ll help me when I need it is a gift I never want to take for granted, but do so often. While many major and minor things in life must be done on my own, here’s a note to self that I won’t have to come up with the power or resources to do it by myself. It will be provided, sometimes by my people or through intentional steps I take, and sometimes in unexplainable ways. When I look back on successful adjustments to life’s changes I’ve gone through, it almost never happened because of one or two specific things I did to “fix” it; it happened from a combination of factors planned out by someone who is a much better planner than me, a detailed combination of people intervening and minor occurrences along the way that I will probably never understand. And I love that. So here’s to patiently waiting for peace and for seeking little moments in this time of change to just be reminded that I’m okay, much better than that in fact.
Song of the week: The Truth is a Cave by The Oh Hellos
Book of the week: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Advice of the week: If you’re going to move, just be rich, leave all of your stuff in your old place and start fresh. Then you can laugh at peasants like me who attempt to fit all of their belongings in a compact sedan for a 500+ mile drive.
Goals for the week: Deep breathing twice a day; less screen time before bed
P.S.: The Office is not leaving Netflix. That is fake news. Get behind me, Satan.