Five Years of Independence

This past week I haven’t been feeling so hot, thanks to all the weather changes. Does the weight of the world seem to drop on anyone else’s sinuses when it first gets cold outside?

While I was lollygagging around my place and trying to negotiate with a fluffy cat to get up so her mom can make the bed, I remembered I’ve been living in my apartment for five years. Five years of living on my own and going through all the changes and challenges.

And God knows a lot has happened since November 13, 2015.

I first moved out here for a job that turned out to be a lot crappier (culture fit) than originally billed. But before the crappy job started, I had spent the few months leading up to my move getting ready for it, stressing about all the stuff I needed to have, irritated with my mother’s directing me on how to move out, and also excited to finally go somewhere that was different.

I felt like my life was finally getting started. It seemed then like life getting started involved either finding a man and moving in with him, or moving to a bigger city for a job. I was grateful for the latter, but also a little bummed it wasn’t the former because I compared myself to others and they all seemed to be happily paired up, doing the thing I wanted so badly to be doing.

I had all kinds of expectations when my folks finally drove off that day. I got to settle in, go to sleep in my new bedroom and dream about what I thought life in the city would be like for a single woman living by herself. The world wasn’t scary. It was my blank space. I could discover all the corners of a new city without anyone knowing who I am. I like anonymity, being able to come and go as I please and to explore without a crowd.

The Reader’s Digest version of the last five years goes as follows: started the crappy job, started running. Adopted my cat Marina, lost some friendships. Lost crappy job. Went through two rounds of unemployment in 2016 and a pretty heavy depression before starting Old Job in early 2017.

In 2017 I got serious about my running and ended the year with my eye surgery to correct a crossed left eye. I also was dealing with an internal shift regarding relationships. In spite of the occasional loneliness, the inadequacy I felt at being one of the last single women was no longer present. I learned to love my own company and be at peace in it, and accepted that never married and no kids might be my path.

2018 was my year. I was enjoying myself and doing well at work. I felt like a new woman after my eye surgery and realized how much my own self-consciousness over my eye held me back. I was running and exploring my city, and generally feeling accomplished and free.

Around November I decided to try Tinder to see if there would be anyone I might be interested in. There was no expectation that I’d meet my soulmate; frankly, I’m pleasantly surprised I never got an unsolicited pictures of guy, um, stuff.

In late December I stumbled across a handsome guy, with dark hair and a good summer tan in his pictures. His name was Sam and I’d be a damn liar if I said the shirtless picture didn’t influence me to swipe right.

The good news is that the guy in the pictures and guy who showed up to Starbucks were the same person. And we’re still together almost two years later.

2019 was busy. Old Job was turning a 180 and I was starting to battle depression, although I didn’t realize that’s what it was until much later. Sam and I were in a new relationship and going through the learning stage, and I decided my fourth year of running was going to be the year I ran four full marathons.

In hindsight I think running four marathons was a way of distracting myself from the work stress and pretending my life was going normally, even though in my professional life I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I had several private breakdowns throughout 2019 in this apartment, which rivaled the severity of the depression I felt during my unemployment in the summer of 2016. The only one who witnessed them at that point was Marina, who always came over to rub her face all over her mom and try to reassure me.

And then we got to 2020. A disaster at Old Job blew up, I had another breakdown and finally decided to talk to a therapist. My therapist confirmed that what I had was depression and that what I felt was normal. Which then and even now seems weird I had to have a third party spell it out to me.

My first appointment with my therapist was on a Friday. The following Monday it was announced we were working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

I didn’t expect to spend near as much time in my apartment like I have this year, although it’s been peaceful and I’m not mad about it. The biggest thing that happened this year aside from the pandemic was me losing Old Job.

Frankly, I’m still not mad about it. I’d rather not be unemployed, but I also haven’t broke down sobbing or had chest pains. You win some, you lose some.

Which brought me to November 13, 2020. Standing at my kitchen counter, drinking coffee before starting a project to clean up my hall closet.

The five years in this apartment has seen a lot of changes. Absolutely none of them were changes or challenges I saw coming, minus adopting Marina. I love animals and knew at some point I’d adopt a kitty, and I’m glad I adopted her pretty early on. She’s been a joy and a comfort.

But the rest of them? Not at all. I had a pretty naive view of my life then and where I wanted to be. I thought I wanted to be like those happily paired up women I envied, and that moving out of my small town would be the ticket to find me a man.

Didn’t happen.

Then I thought I wanted to become the single professional woman in the city, with a closet full of beautiful clothes and shoes, frequenting downtown restaurants and bars.

That kinda happened. I do have some nice clothes, but I’m not willing to pay to park downtown. And the ‘ronavirus pretty much killed all aspirations to eat out.

But then again, I haven’t had any interest in eating downtown since February of 2019. So the last two sentences are moot.

This apartment has evolved with me and seen growth and change as well. I think I can wrap the main lesson of the past five years – whether I realized it while snuggling with Marina or in a heap of defeat on my bedroom floor – into a single statement.

Abandon all preconceived notions. Life is going to change so many times and you’re going to evolve with it.

With that being said, I’m looking forward to the joys and turmoils in the next five years. Hopefully more joys than turmoils, although both are side effects of being alive.

Yours in writing,

Allison

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