A Portland To-Do List

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I have spent the last year and a half waiting on a lot of things. I waited to see if I would get a new job and be able to afford my old apartment without my ex-boyfriend. I waited to see if I was going to be able to keep the cat I had been fostering for several months. I waited to see if I would seriously connect with another person so I could stop asking myself if that would ever happen to me again. The answers came as, yes to the job! No to the apartment, no to the cat. No to connection (for now).

I think, when I get to Portland, I’m going to live by myself, after all — It’s what I was eventually going to work toward anyway, so now I’ve just decided to skip a step. I thought about living in a group house in Portland; it would be cheaper, and I’d meet people. I’d do if for a few months and then move to a place by myself, or to a place with ONE roommate instead of three or four. But as much as I liked this plan, part of it made me still feel like I would be waiting. I don’t want to wait to see if I find a cool roommate or a cheap one bedroom, and move to Portland knowing I’ll move again in a few months.

Keeping my work life separate from my home life will be a challenge, because the two will share a space approximately 230 square feet in size. But ever since Stefanie sent me a link to a converted hotel apartment building, I’ve been picturing myself living in it. I don’t own stuff anymore; this small space won’t look as empty as the giant one-bedroom apartment Kevin and I spent time and money filling up. All this place will need is a bed, a desk, and a chair — life over here, work over there. I think I can separate the two spaces with some creative feng shui (and some of these IKEA shelves). My friend Becca is great at stuff like that and had some great suggestions.

I want to rely on myself for a change, and sign a lease on my own for the first time in my life. I’ve never walked into a housing situation alone — I’ve just ended up that way a couple of times. I like living by myself. I just didn’t like living in a too-big, empty, ex-boyfriend-haunted apartment. No one would.

I’ve been scared for a while because I have dated a few dudes in the last 18 months, but they haven’t felt the same to me. I worried for a long time that it was because I had lost the ability to feel anything for anyone; those guys were great, yet I remained unmoved. But now I think it just means I’ve gotten better at knowing when something isn’t right. So for now, I am borrowing hope from the future. There’s a dude out there, and  — let’s be real — probably a few of them. I’m going to meet him/them eventually, and it’s going to be pretty awesome.

So here’s a list of things to do after I hit town, in order of priority:

  • Sign lease for quirky, converted hotel studio apartment
  • Adopt elderly Portland cat
  • Transfer to Portland roller derby outfit
  • Find buddies to hang with
  • Meet cute, bearded Portland dudes who are into cats/ladies who like cats

The more clearly I picture myself there, the more impatient I feel for it to be my reality. That is, when I am not thinking about how I need to cram as much hang-out time as I can with every single Chicago person I know and love. It’s a big ol’ bucket of conflicting emotions these days, but I am so, so happy.

I can’t wait/I need more time.

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Filling Big Shoes

MomMothers Day is tough every year — there’s just no way around it. I get a little pit in my stomach every spring when I see the ads starting, but I just know I need to take care of myself and do what feels best in order to deal. It gets easier every year. I used to feel a lot of resentment on Mothers Day, and feeling so negatively toward others just exacerbated the pain I was already feeling about not having a mom anymore. In more recent years, I’ve found it’s become a lot easier, and feels a lot better, to embrace the day — to celebrate, instead of mourn. Easier said than done, I know – I’m not telling anyone else how to feel or how to respond to their own feelings. No one can help what naturally comes up for them, emotionally. It does help, though, when others around me show that they remember that not everyone has a mom, or has a great relationship with theirs.

I am lucky to have known my mom for 21 years, and now that she’s gone, it’s not gone unnoticed by me that I’ve got a bunch of bad ass ladies in my life filling in for some of her job duties. I wrote an essay about it for HelloGiggles, and it ran the morning of Mothers Day.

Outside of those special women, I am a little weird about my friends’ moms, but at least I know it. Luckily they don’t mind sharing their moms with me, or at least their mom stories, so I can live vicariously through them. I love Stef telling me about her mom binge-watching Parenthood and Friday Night Lights; I visited Becca’s mom when I was vacationing in Utah, because I felt like I knew her even though we’d never met. I’ve loved my roommates’ moms when they’ve visited, and I am even Facebook friends with some of them. I have been looking for moms in my life since mine passed away, and the fact that she was one-of-a-kind probably means I’ll always be a little bit looking. Whoever I marry someday better have a pretty amazing mother, that’s for sure. A potentially stand-offish mother-in-law might just be a deal breaker for me.

I don’t begrudge my friends having the relationships they do with their moms. If anything, it would probably be harder for me to hear about if they didn’t. But then again, everyone’s family is different and you don’t know what a relationship is really like unless you’re one of the parties involved. I support my friends no matter their level of closeness with their moms.

That said, if your mom is around, I hope you do have a good bond with her. If not, I hope you’ve found other people in your life who can offer you the support you need. I am really glad for those ones I’ve found along the way.

10 Weeks

Monday, July 13.

That’s officially the day my dad and I will take off in a packed, blue Cavalier and head out on I-90 for a few days straight. We’ll take our time, stretching between four and five days on the road — a big change from the one other time I drove across the country with Liz and Eileen, from Columbus, Ohio to San Diego, in a mere two-and-a-half. I’m so glad Dad is willing to make this long trip with me, and I’m really looking forward to it.

This set date means I have 10 weeks left in Chicago: 70 days, and technically one-fifth of a year, but it’s also only 10 more Saturday nights, and nine more roller derby practices. I go back and forth between wanting to speed this time up and slow it down. This weekend has been a great one, and one in which I’ve felt both ways, back and forth. It was gorgeous all weekend, and I saw a ton of my friends. I was outside a lot, I got the season’s first real sunburn, and I saw a roller derby bout. I also looked at openings in Portland group houses on Craigslist.

Last weekend, I moved what few belongings I still own from the place Adele and I had in Albany Park to Christina and John’s house in Avondale. It took maybe two hours, and I “unpacked” in 30 minutes. Most of my stuff is still in taped-up boxes, awaiting their fate of either being shipped to Portland via Amtrack, or being mailed to me at a later date. Aside from clothes and a one-cup coffee maker, there’s not much out in the open in my room. Not owning things feels freeing. It will be a pain to replace stuff in Portland, but for now I feel very light.

This is everything I own.

This is everything I own.

It’s my old room, the one I lived in when I first moved to Chicago, before I started at Groupon, and before I knew hardly anyone. It feels familiar and comforting, albeit a little surreal. The bird and tree wall decals I put up back then are still there, right where I’d left them. I woke up my first morning there and had a strange feeling of someone who’d moved back in with their family after graduating from college. While I can’t help but think about who I was and what was important to me five years ago, this sensation has mostly passed.

Home, again.

Home, again.

Last week I found out about a new Chicago music festival called Mamby On The Beach. My much-cooler friend Brittany posted about it on Facebook, and I messaged her about it. Headliners are Empire of the Sun and Passion Pit, and others include Phantogram, Cut/Copy, and Tanlines — among tons of others. My heart sank when I saw the dates of the festival: July 11 and 12, the two days before I move. Still, it seemed like a big way to go out, so I asked Liz if she wanted to go. She seemed like the best person to ask, since she likes those bands too, and is a person would be willing to pay to go to Lolla were it not such a shit show. She said yes immediately, because she is awesome and spontaneous. I thought about it later and realized it was kind of perfect that Liz is the person I’ll spend most of my last Chicago weekend with; When I moved to Chicago, she was living in Evanston and was, at the time, the only person I knew in the area. Halloween was five days after I moved here, and she took me out to a bar in Lincoln Park to make me feel welcome.

Speaking of bars — another friend (forgive me for not remembering who) was joking recently about how I should hold a farewell tour for myself instead of one big going away party. I know they were kidding, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. If I have a handful of opportunities to see people, no one will feel insanely pressured to come to one big, final hurrah. And if I know there are still future chances to see people, it will never really feel like goodbye. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

These dates are tentative, but here’s what I’m shooting for. If you’re in Chicago, come on by:

If you can’t make it to these, I still have a Chicago bucket list of mostly (burger) restaurants, so let’s grab dinner.