When you turn 25, it feels like an alarm goes off and all of a sudden everyone is buying houses, getting engaged, and reproducing. Each time I log on to Facebook, I’m met with an onslaught of hearts on the side of my feed that tell me about all the engagements, weddings, and babies that have happened since I last checked in. That’s why everyone gives me the side-eye when I tell them that I’m actually moving out of the apartment that I’ve shared with my boyfriend, Chris, for the past three years and away from the only city I’ve ever called home (I didn’t even leave for college). Not only that, I’ll now be a plane ride away. Chris will stay put in Syracuse, New York, and I’m off to Charlotte, North Carolina, to once again pick out girly shower curtains with a roommate.
Normally when someone moves out of the apartment they share with a significant other, there’s a messy breakup. Clothes are thrown on the front lawn, locks are changed, and one partner may be acting out the entire list of instructions from “Before He Cheats” in the parking lot. In my case, quite the opposite is happening. My boyfriend and I are not breaking up. In fact, he fully supports the move. He’s helped me find apartments to check out, and he’s making the drive down with me to get settled in. The weirdest part is that my job allows me to work from home, so I could technically stay put. But I just can’t accept buying a house across from my high school and calling it a day just yet. There’s nothing wrong with that and a lot of people in my town do it, but I still have some adventure left to get out of my system. When you’ve only lived in one city your entire life, it becomes pretty uninspiring after a while. I need to experience someplace new in order to fully appreciate my hometown and keep growing as a person.
In case you’re not familiar with the area, living in Syracuse means dealing with a winter that lasts from October until mid-May (seriously) for as long as I can remember. In addition to forgetting what sunlight is for half the year, I see my friends’ moms in yoga class and wave hello to my old chemistry teacher as I’m buying tampons. It has its fun moments, but it also makes me feel as if I’m perpetually in junior high school. I’ll miss the comfort and sense of security that Syracuse offers me, but I view the move like a pair of jeans. After a while the really comfortable ones just become kind of shapeless. You have to buy a new pair and deal with the awkward breaking in process in order to get the payoff. The city of Charlotte is my skinny jeans.
Regardless of who I’m talking to, the first question I field as I explain my new life plan is always, “What about Chris?” A fair inquiry, given the fact that we’ve been dating for five years. They were probably expecting an engagement announcement and I’m telling them that my boyfriend will actually have to get on a plane to see me. Not exactly a traditional relationship path. But neither one of us feels ready to get married yet. He’s been here since college and I’ve been here since I had a collection of American Girl dolls. We both need to get out and live a little before we promise forever to one another. It’s hard to even know what forever should look like when you’ve only known one situation.
I certainly expect to experience culture shock when I get down south. I haven’t lived with a roommate since I shared a house with five other girls and a bunch of squirrels during my senior year of college. I can barely remember how you divide up chores. Do we each buy our own tubs of Greek yogurt and passive aggressively label them? But that part doesn’t scare me as much as the whole “plane ride away” thing. It’ll be hard to save up what little disposable income I have to make sure that Chris and I get back and forth to see each other regularly. But with this negative side of the situation comes a bunch of positives. It’s easy to take someone for granted when they’re always there. It’s also easy to get really, really comfortable when you’ve been in the same apartment in the same place for a while. When you’re in a new area (even if one of you is just visiting the other) you’re more compelled to check out restaurants and festivals and make the most of your time together. I’m hoping we’ll focus on the positives.
While I’m sure I won’t entirely avoid panicked “what did I just do?” moments, I also know that I’m doing what needs to be done so I can jump forward to the next phase of my life. It’s time to break free of my safe little snow-filled bubble and find out what else is out there. Chris and I still have plenty of time left to pop out a bunch of kiddos and buy a house that overlooks the soccer field where I faced many hours of humiliation in gym class.
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