“Can you see yourself doing this for a couple of years?” he’d asked during the interview.
“Yes,” I said without hesitation. Reality was that I couldn’t picture myself in the city at all. My first and last encounter with Chicago was a 36-hour period in which I’d whirled through Northwestern’s Medill College campuses during my search for a graduate school. I remembered the throngs of pedestrians in downtown Chicago, and the complete mistake that trying to drive there had been. I remembered the rental car running out of oil, having to pull into the world’s tiniest gas station to buy a new bottle. (My mom took a photo for my dad of me crawling around under the hood trying to figure out where the oil actually went..)
But there I was, getting on a red eye bound for O’Hare. 36 hours and three hours of sleep later, Mom and I had managed to negotiate the Chicago bus lines, multiple apartment viewings, a lease agreement, and some sort of sleep-deprived, channel-hopping-fueled combination of NCIS and Johnny Depp.
This is the sixth time I’ll have moved since the beginning of the year. You’d think it would get easier, or at least more streamlined. But you walk into a wall where there was a hallway a month ago (or was it a week ago?). Similar streets get confusing (is that Belmont intersection in Fresno or Chicago?). Everything feels temporary (how much do you spend on furniture when you’re probably going to move again within a few years? ). The process of making a strange new city home is becoming more familiar, though I’m glad I can leave my tent stakes in the ground for a while this time.