One Year

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A single person can’t move a full bed three stories on her own.

I know. I tried.

Alone in this new city and without any pants because the airline had lost my bag and Chicago was colder than expected, I just wanted to sleep in the bed that I paid too much for from my room’s previous tenant. All my frustration and fear would surely morph into energy and I would get that bed up to my room, I thought that first night in Chicago.

It didn’t.

Not even half way up, a neighbor saw me struggling and offered to help. Then, I couldn’t figure out the frame (and it seriously wasn’t until LAST week that someone pointed out that my frame is for a queen and I have a full mattress) (it also took until Kieara came several months later before I got the bed on a frame), but at least I had a bed. I fell asleep half excited, half scared about this new life in Chicago.

I wanted Chicago to make me happy. I wanted it to bring me love and passion and purpose. I wanted it to be the answer to all of my problems. I wanted to climb the top all on my own and just be OK. It’s been one year since I landed in Chicago, drove up Lake Shore Drive and immediately fell in love with this city’s skyline.

I came to Chicago a pretty broken person and it took several months before I could put myself together. I wanted so much while fearing that I didn’t know what I wanted. I was the loneliest I had ever been in my life – yes, even next to all those nights in Lesotho – and each new day took more effort than I seemed to have.

But, I showed up. I contacted barely acquaintances and said yes to every social invitation. I found my go-to coffee shop and settled into commuting habits. I stumbled and came close to failing, but then I got up and tried again. All I wanted was a life that I could be proud of and, even when that didn’t seem possible, I kept trying.

Someone how, without much fanfare, it all came into place. Occasionally I will be out to brunch or walking through downtown on my way to work and think, “Yes, this is how I always imagined it to be.

I couldn’t do it on my own, though. I needed my family’s support and their visits to Chicago. I needed those barely acquaintances that became good friends. I needed the friends who always remind me to text when I made it home. I needed incredible colleagues who are also my friends. I needed the strangers who give me their seat on the train or offer a quick hello.

And here I am, at the top. My first year in this city was tough and sometimes I wanted to pack up and leave again, but I didn’t. I didn’t because I knew that one day this moment would come, the moment when everything feels so right.

I am not sure where I will be when the second anniversary comes, but I am not fearful. I look back at that woman I was when I first arrive and she feels so different than who I am now. I struggled, I triumphed, I grew.

All I know is that I go into the next year feeling quite proud of the little life I created in this city.

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