I’m in my new place. The bed has been assembled and has sheets on it, the bathroom has been cleaned to my mother’s exacting standard, and I have real food in the fridge. All I have to do is finish unpacking my things so I’m not rifling through piles of stuff on Monday morning when I’m trying to get to work.
It’s been a busy week. I flew back to the US on Tuesday, arriving in the evening, with just enough time to grab dinner before collapsing in a Raleigh hotel room. Since then, my parents and I have:
- Picked up the key for my new place
- Made up for lost time with an overdue dentist visit
- Bought ALL the things for my new place (including a day-long marathon trip to IKEA)
- Put together all the new furniture
- Wasted 3+ hours at the DMV just so I could fail the written test to get my NC license
- Got an American cell phone
- Found a sturdy bike for getting to work and
- Bought enough groceries to feed a small army/last until my first paycheck comes through
Somehow, we got it all done. It took several very long days, plus one surprisingly anxiety-inducing trip to the grocery store (reading labels and checking ingredient lists is VERY tiring) brought us to the point where I am suitably provisioned going forward.
What’s more surprising is how calm I feel about all of it. I’m used to feeling anxious before a big chance, as we’ve previously established. But this time, it’s all more or less okay. Sure, I feel pangs of regret and nostalgia every time I see an item from Vienna that got damaged in my suitcase, or when I see all of my friends there having fun without me, but it’s manageable. Besides, I am here now, surrounded by concrete things—my bed, my dresser, my massive stack of decorative pillows (the real sign, I am now convinced, of Adulthood). It certainly doesn’t hurt that this is the first time since I left my parents’ home that all my things are truly mine. They aren’t dorm furniture I’m stuck with, or towels that get changed by housekeeping, or not-very-nice things that I simply have to put up with for now because I’m a student. There’s something about simply having stuff that I find terribly comforting—and now, more of my stuff can come with me.
But however much it helps, it isn’t my stuff that is making things different. I’m different, too—different from the 10-year-old who cried during the fifth-grade overnight, and the 18-year-old who somehow ended up living in the “party dorm”, and even the 21-year-old who jetted off to Vienna. I’m not massively more together, or suddenly Mature, but I am ready, I think, to be exactly where I am. I am an employed person. I am living in a house. I am building a little nest, and a little life, for myself.
I am here.