Erin and I divorced early this summer.
This is not news to anyone who knows either of us. We split last fall, and took some time to ourselves before concluding that things just weren’t going to work, and trying again would just leave us both in the same place another year or two down the road. We certainly could have sorted out the legalities months before we did, but neither of us had any reason to be in a hurry. She wrote about it months ago, and I haven’t really been sure what to say about things until now. I still don’t have much to say about it: we’re still on good terms and I don’t think one could have asked for a better divorce, frankly, and Erin covered things pretty well in her post.
Months later, I find myself at a place that made more sense to me at 21 than it does at 31. I’m dating again. I’m living in a studio apartment with cheap furniture and a poorly-equipped kitchen. I’m trying to pay off the debt we racked up during our two cross-country-ish moves and setting up a new home for myself after we split. I’m wondering, again, what I’m doing with my life, and whether I’ll find someone I want to spend the rest of it with. Five years ago, when things were good, and our finances were in order, and we had made a home for ourselves in DC, this is certainly not where I expected to wind up.
I’m thankful that this happened now, and not another five or ten or twenty unhappy years down the road; starting over like this surely gets that much harder as one gets older. And it’s not like I’m even that old, really; it’s just difficult to see myself as 31, when I always thought for sure that people had everything figured out by their 30’s, and that I would too; I can’t possibly be this old, because I haven’t.
So now I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing with myself: what I’m doing with my life, what I want to be doing with my life, how much longer I want to stay in Chicago. I always assumed that I’d be leaving Chicago again sooner or later, and moving back to Denver was always the leading option, but now I’m not sure.
Part of me wants to go back to Denver, or somewhere near there, maybe Boulder or Golden.
Part of me wants to move to some other city, a new-to-me-city, maybe a smaller one where I can get a bigger apartment and actually get to know the city well; Chicago is so big that I feel like I can get to know part of really well or all of it really poorly.
Part of me wants to get an actual house somewhere, maybe even with a yard for a dog, which would definitely mean a smaller city at the very least.
Part of me wants to shed as many worldly goods as possible, to retain the option of stealing away in the night with only the things I can carry. All of me knows how flakey and naïve that sounds.
Part of me wants to stay in Chicago, to actually put down roots, to figure out which neighborhood is the one where I belong (because I certainly haven’t found it yet), to nurture the friendships that are finally taking root, because I’ve moved enough times to know how hard it is to start that all over again.
Part of me really thought that with space of my own and a couple months to mull it all over, maybe a few solid Saturdays with a pen and a pad of paper, that I would have all of this sorted and figured by now, and now that it’s been nearly a year since I moved out, it’s beginning to bother me that I haven’t. I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise; there are entire sections of book shops dedicated to helping people figure out what they’re doing with their lives, so I don’t know why I thought it would be a straightforward endeavor.