Relocation Options: Option One, Iowa

posted in: Tips, Travel 4
You can see Robert James Waller’s face in the side of this covered bridge if the light’s just right.

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for people who care about each other to terminate the living situation which has connected them with another and to assume among the powers of real estate, the separate and hopefully equal apartments to which the Leases and Landlords and/or Management Companies grant them, a decent respect to the considerations of mankind suggests that they should declare the options before them as to where exactly in Sam Hill they plan to go.”

Of course, I can only speak for myself. Here are facts:

1. Yuri and I have agreed that living together is not what we should do right now.
2. My condo in Chicago is unavailable, as I have tenants in the unit through mid-June.
3. I do not wish to stay in New York.

Fact One on its own is manageable enough: find separate apartments. Unfortunately, Fact Three renders this possibility D.O.A. I don’t want to find another apartment in New York, especially one that I would be able to afford on my own. Sharing a one-bedroom is great in this city (or any other) because two can afford something together that one couldn’t possibly swing. I did the research. The furnished apartments I found that were within my budget made me extremely depressed. Did I look in every nook and cranny of the city? Did I look in Queens? No, I didn’t, because I don’t want to live in Queens. No offense to Queens, I just don’t want to live there.

All right, then just go back to Chicago. A fine idea, but for Fact Two. Sure, I could tempt my adorable med students with a free month’s rent and some cash to vacate early — everyone has their price and second-year med students are probably happy to let you know what that number might be — but I don’t like this plan. It’s disruptive to them and it would be painful for me. My relationship has failed and my move to New York has failed. Returning to Chicago before the one-year-gone anniversary would be too painful. I picture myself with a little hobo stick, riding into town on a broken-down palomino.

I could get a little apartment in Chicago and wait out my tenants till June, but that would maybe be more depressing. “I can see my house from here!” I’d cry, holding my hobo stick.

So no New York, no Chicago till June. Six months. Six months to go. Over these painful weeks, I have been weighing options and crunching numbers and going over and back over what my best course of action is, here. And now:

Option No. 1: Mom’s House — Winterset, Iowa
Winterset is my hometown. I was born there. My sisters were born there. I know all the bank tellers and the bank tellers’ kids. Lots of people move back home. A large number of people never leave in the first place.

There are many upsides to Option No. 1., including but not limited to; cost of living (essentially nil), being able to hang out with Mom and Mark a lot, a big kitchen, access to cars, Des Moines is a short 35 minutes away and Des Moines is alright, I would get to be with Scrabble (Mom’s dog who I love), I could say hi to the bank tellers, their kids, etc.

Downsides? Numerous. There is no public transportation system to use, so I have to drive everywhere and I don’t particularly like driving in Iowa on account of all the deer. Add to that that I love my mom and stepdad so much but six months is a heckuva long time. I’m more worried they’d get annoyed with me than the other way around. Besides, all those bank tellers remember watching my car die in the Homecoming parade. Turns out you can go home again, but do you want to?

The main problem with Winterset is that I need to save it. See, if I’m going to be at Mom’s house for six whole months, I want to be suffering from a bonafide nervous breakdown. I want to save the “I’m Going Home For Awhile” card for full-on crazy. I want people to ask my mom, “Did I see Mary at the grocery store the other day?” so Mom can go, “Oh, yes. Mary’s… Mary’s home for a little while.” Then the person will say, “Oh, is she okay?” and Mom will say something like, “I think Mary just needs a little…rest.” And I’ll be at home on the couch watching 19 Kids and Counting in the fetal position, combing my hair with a fork. It sounds amazing. I don’t want to blow that opportunity now, when I feel sad but otherwise totally functional.

So Iowa is out. Tomorrow, the next sensible option explored.

Me and Renaldo, We Figure It Out.

Surely a kitten in a bucket will improve my outlook.
Surely a kitten in a bucket will improve my outlook.

Black, black, black was my mood this morning.

Not even the spring weather, cartoonish in its perfection, could zap the cloud floating just above my head. It’s luxury problems: I feel out of shape because constant travel keeps me from regular exercise. Expense reports need done. I’m leaving Chicago in the morning for two solid weeks; I’ll see D.C., New York, and Pittsburgh before I see my home toothbrush again. But more than any of this, I was low because Yuri and I had an argument last night. Instead of things looking clearer in the morning, “things” looked crummy. I woke up feeling very bad, indeed, and nothing scheduled in the day ahead convinced me this would change.

Part of my ridonkulously long list of tasks to complete included the shipping of twelve — twelve! — rather large boxes to the winners of a recent Quilty giveaway. I do not have a car or an assistant, so shipping these boxes meant that I would need to haul them in batches by hand or small shopping cart — on foot, now — to the UPS Store several blocks away. It’s okay. I got this. No, no, I got this.

Dropping two boxes on the sidewalk by the 7-Eleven (and then getting them back into the stack I carried) was tough. My left arm nearly falling off because it was cramping up crossing State St. was tough. But I didn’t cry. Because when I walked into the UPS, Renaldo was working.

“Renaldo!” I said, immediately dropping the large stack onto the floor. “What’s the haps, my friend.” It was a demand: tell me what is going on, Renaldo, because I require it of you. I want our awesome conversation to carry me through the next thirty minutes of this crappy day.

“Hey, Miss Mary,” Renaldo said. “I’m chillin’, I’m chillin.”

Renaldo has worked at the UPS Store in my neighborhood since I moved here; that means I’ve known him for three years. He’s Puerto Rican, has lots of tattoos, and sometimes he will give me a break on my bill if I’m shipping 90,000 boxes, which happens frequently. Renaldo is severely overweight, and if I hadn’t been so happy to see him I would’ve been bummed that all the weight he lost last year is back. Damnit! You were doing really well, buddy.

Without a single word about how long it’s been since I’ve been in the shop (months), without one word about the weather, Renaldo and I fell into our favorite topic of conversation: relationships. I don’t know how it started, but for three years now, when I go into the UPS Store and Reny is working (and if there’s no one else in there, waiting in line) we rap about love. Given the argument I had last night, seeing Reny was perfect timing.

I asked him about his girl. Renaldo always has girl drama.

“Don’t know,” he said, shaking his head, gearing up to tell me a long story. “My girl’s actin’ the fool. I think it’s over.”

He entered the addresses in the computer and I listened and asked questions about the situation. His girlfriend is depressed. She’s refusing his love, saying she doesn’t deserve him, doesn’t deserve anyone because she had an abortion. She does have one child and lately, she’s been talking to her baby daddy. Renaldo has this girl’s name tattooed on his arm. Aye, papi.

I told him a little about my argument, but just enough to commiserate. There’s a lot that is a lot different about our situations, though all wars in love are the same. When each of the boxes had been labeled and moved onto the big palette to go onto the afternoon truck, I thanked my friend and told him it was good to see him. I gathered my things and was on my way out the door.

“You’ll be aiight,” Renaldo called after me. “Hang in there.”

I sagged and turned around. “I’m in love!” I said, miserable. “I have no choice.”

Renaldo hooted at this. “You’re screwed, Miss Mary. So am I.”

Yes, Renaldo. We are all screwed.