day 52, formally airing grievances she’s been airing unsolicited
Welcome back to my lil’ deranged section of Kelly’s “The First Year” Series. This month, we’re talking housing. In other words, where have our as-of-graduation homeless asses found a place to crash and continue our training as professional thermostat-changers (if you can’t handle me at my worst – anything hotter than a brisk 68 degrees – you certainly don’t deserve me at my best: a straight-up icebox).
I found this topic particularly titillating when Kelly unveiled it to us First Years because it finally allowed me the opportunity to air certain grievances I have been casting onto my family for the past four months without so much of an eye roll back in response, much less the acknowledgment that I was even speaking. For the first time in my 21 years I had been asked to complain. After checking my backyard and basement for Ashton Kutcher, I nixed the possibility that I was being Punk’d (and this dated reference along with it) and got to writing. A few dramatic huffs and puffs and pages later about Dasani water and battles for the airplane armrests and guys who wear pants with palm trees on them, I reminded myself of the term “relevancy” and got back to the task at hand.
This past March my family made the dramatic move 50 miles north of Yonkers, New York in Westchester, the county right outside of New York City, to Bridgeport, Connecticut. You heard that right. My mother uprooted me and my already pretty-grown up twin 17 year-old siblings away from the greatest city on Earth to a place where palm tree pants run rampant. How dare she?
I’m not as much of a brat as the last paragraph would suggest, so it didn’t take long for me to shake the devastation that I’d have to tell strangers I live anywhere other than New York and adopt newfound joy at the prospect of the turn-of-the-century Spanish Mediterranean my family was about to wreak havoc in begin the next chapter of our lives in. I returned home one weekend before graduation. My mother and I took the drive up to visit the empty house. The gothic cathedral ceilings swept me off my feet. The wrought-iron Romeo and Juliet indoor balcony took my breath away. The hand-forged swinging windows in the bedrooms made me fall to the floor, where I remained in disbelief and a small pout session after being informed that none of those bedrooms were for me (I’m really not a brat, I promise).
Three bathrooms, four bedrooms – just enough room for my mom, brother Tristan, sister Sydney, and grandparents. Just enough room until I graduated and left DC, the past four years of my life in a U-Haul behind me, and moved to the new house, where the whole family had to swallow the harsh reality that this ain’t no summer vacation, this is life.
Fast forward four weeks and I’ve spent the first month of my First Year couch-surfing…in my own home. The passive-aggressive jokes about being the forgotten child quickly became old news because in my mother’s defense, the couches really are comfortable. And who ever said having divorced parents is a bad thing? As far as I’m concerned, the only price I have to pay is a Starbucks quad espresso macchiato with one raw sugar and extra foam to the matriarch herself in exchange the other half of her king-sized, three-hundred thread count, French linen bed.
It hasn’t taken me long after commencement to already learn a valuable lesson: where you’re dreaming is not nearly as important as what you’re dreaming about. Or as important as even dreaming at all, rather than repeatedly sleeping off your blackouts from the night before. We just celebrated graduating college, not our retirements, and it doesn’t take a luxury apartment or mortgage or bills addressed in our name to feel accomplished. As long as we’re not sleeping on ourselves, does it really matter where we end up sleeping?
It hasn’t taken me long after commencement to already learn a valuable lesson: where you’re dreaming is not nearly as important as what you’re dreaming about.
Because this is the time of our life where we’re supposed to struggle with how to remove a wine stain from the carpet and wash our dishes by hand and cry over assembling Ikea furniture. Burn our toast and eat it anyway. Collect pieces of art and knick-knacks for the apartment-of-our-dreams before even living in it. Be clueless and free-like-birds and terrified at the thought of not knowing where we’ll crash tonight while taking solace in the fact that we’re still hot enough to flirt ourselves in the bed of an unsuspecting stranger.
Lucky for all of us, we have friends and families who, despite the fact that we eat all the food and do none of the chores, love us even if they don’t like us, so that stranger’s bed can remain a tipsy choice and not a last resort. Ultimately, not having to worry about my rent has given me more time to focus on my career, on my passions and on what it is that I’d like to do with my future.
So to all my fellow First Years, keep a steady hand on that thermostat and a steadier hand on your dreams, because though we may be riding an unsteady wave of couches, we’re simultaneously riding an even more unsteady wave: life. And trust me when I say, both are pretty plush.