Take Two #92: Starting Over in Chicago
By Kyra-lin Hom
In the iconic words of Jubal Early, as he floats through space untethered, and the final line of Firefly's TV run, “Well... Here I am.” Hopefully, I'm not slowly drifting to death in an endless frozen vacuum, but I do have a lot more in common with Jubal right now than is what can be termed comfortable. In this new and surprisingly foreign place, I have no connections. I have no job as of yet. And I know no one besides my boyfriend and me. I thought that college in LA would have prepared me for this feeling, but it turns out that moving out of state for school and just moving out of state are very different games.
The permanency didn't hit me until I was sitting in the Denver International Airport at 3:45am, waiting for the check in counter to open at 4:15. We were booked for a red eye flight and hadn't managed to sleep a wink before 'getting up' at 2:30. Anxiety plus hunger (because nothing in the airport opens that early) plus sleep deprivation is a lovely emotional cocktail. I really recommend it to anyone making huge changes in their life. Upheaval just isn't complete without traumatic mood swings. It's a really fantastic combo. The other waiting travelers were giving me a wide berth.
The advantage, however, to being that exhausted is that time becomes all kinds of relative. My flight into Chicago took approximately three whole minutes. From there we collected our baggage and then taxi'ed to our apartment with the nicest cabby you have ever met. He was from West Africa and had moved to Chicago after finding a dog-sized rat in his friend's New York shower his first night state side. That is definitely one point in Chicago's favor. He did keep telling us that Chicago is a very 'clean' city.
After checking in to our apartment, we finally fed ourselves and then bussed to South Shore to pick up our U-Box (packed up and shipped from Seattle like a POD but by U-Haul). There are 77 distinct neighborhoods in Chicago. And as distinctive as we Seattleites like to think our neighborhoods are, we have nothing on Chicago. These borderlines are razor sharp.
Our apartment is on the north end of Hyde Park. Hyde Park has a bad reputation, but the feel itself isn't bad at all. Keep going south and you end up in Woodlawn. Woodlawn feels kind of like Seattle's Central District – me having gone to Garfield High School. Keep going south, however, and you end up in South Shore. And though it's not Chicago's worst neighborhood, it's definitely not a place where you want to dally around after sunset.
We scheduled our U-Box pick up at approximately 1pm to make our 2-4 appointment with the freight elevator at out apartment. Well, we got there at about 1, told them we were there to pick up our U-Box and took a seat. Ten minutes went by... then half an hour... then an hour... then it was 3 o'clock. It turns out that saying you want to 'pick up' your U-Box does not imply you actually want to remove it from the premises. They had the U-Box all ready for us to unload it, as long as we wanted to unload it right there.
We lucked out and there was no one scheduled to use the freight elevator until 6 that evening. So after just a few fits of stress and rage and utter disbelief at watching the 40 minute cluster-eff that was them loading our U-Box onto it's trailer hitch, we were finally on our way. Time to drive a 30-foot boat with a hinge in the middle through unfamiliar streets. Yay! Then of course we had to reverse what four people had done in three hours with two people in two hours and drive the monster back. I don't know how we did it, but we did. And all before dark too.
Now, here we are. It hasn't been all bad. Not at all. The black mold scare was a false alarm, and the terrifyingly numerous spiders are all outside our windows (How?! We're on the 36th floor!) In all seriousness though, I am very homesick. I love Seattle and everything and everyone I left behind, but I am adjusting. Downtown Chicago is a glorious testament to art and human ingenuity, and I've barely scratched the surface. My nerves are beginning to gradually fade and excitement is wedging its way in. This is one giant adventure after all. I hope you're all ready for the ride.