Just over three and a half years ago, I picked up the keys to my new condo in Chicago.
Far north side. High first floor. Exposed brick. Hardwood. And most importantly, mine.
I moved in with two dogs, two cats, and a heart full of hope, freshly landed in Chicago to return to a career in the arts.
Yesterday, I closed the door on that condo for the very last time. I listed it just after Memorial Day, had three offers in four days, and sold it for more than I asked. So there’s money.
Then there’s the reminder that this…
is was home.
And as I twisted the button on the doorknob, locking the keys inside, my breath caught. Tears welled-up.
Because after leaving home the day after I graduated from high school, I’ve been on the hunt for it since.
Two continents. Ten cities. And (fuck) 26 years later — I’d found it. HOME.
I was leaving with one less cat — my sweet PeterCat, my Huggy Buggy and PeterCake left my family in February 2015 because cancer is an asshole and eats not just a victim’s heart, but every heart in a two-mile radius.
I was leaving with one less dog — my Hippopotamus. The best hippo in the zoo. My Dorkapotamus. The Hippopotamoose. Mr. Potamus (his formal name). In 48 hours he went from Hippo to a Hippo I couldn’t bear to make live the way he’d become. And I cried. For days. Like I-need-Pedialyte-dehydrating kind of crying and I still cry. Shit. I’m crying now.
But I’d gained a love I never thought I’d find — Clark Kent. Created over three-and-a-half years of memories to take with me — no box required (thanks christ because holy shit, moving is Hitler’s asshole and the last thing I need are more boxes).
And here I am, in a new apartment 1.5 miles away that doesn’t yet feel like home, but I’m surrounded by the people and creatures I love most.
There’s a part of me that wishes I could rewind the clock and do everything over again from square one upon arriving in Chicago. Start my acting career sooner. Waste less time on being someone I wasn’t and creating things that didn’t matter to me. Finding a way to fix my Hippo and save my PeterCat and realize somehow that Clark Kent lived only a seven-minute bike ride from my condo for over two years and in a building I’d almost bought a condo in.
I’d write more, bitch less. Stop doing the consulting work sooner than I had and stop apologizing for the work I wanting to be doing instead and for wanting to do it in the first place. I’ll tell my agent no more often than driving 2 hours round-trip for a massive pile of shitty I wouldn’t want on my resume to begin with.
More nos and more yesses. Less middle.
And while the same could be said for my waistline after living on fast food for a week during this move, here are three things I’ll leave you with today that might help you to have more nos and yesses — and fewer middles.
Let Go. I get it. You’re a strong motherfucker and channel Schwartzenegger back in the original Terminator movie days (the first one — and ONLY the first one). Your heart has the payload capacity of an 18-wheeler and by god, you are going to carry all of this forever and ever and stop for gas begrudgingly because you don’t need gas. You need to go.
LET GO. Of everything that doesn’t build you up. Tears someone else down. Keeps you from shining that gorgeous fucking light only you are capable of shining. If it doesn’t unleash you, it doesn’t serve you. You weren’t built to be leashed.
Let It In. All that shit you’ve been fighting so hard against. The love, the hurt, the realization that you’re not perfect and fuck up on a regular basis. Let it in that you’re human and fallible and that every bit of your dork is someone else’s idea of awesome. When you let go, you make room to let the people and feelings that matter inside. Which is where they belong — in your heart and not on the periphery.
Move Forward. What’s holding you back, buttercup? What you want is out there and waiting and it sure as hell isn’t going to climb 3 flights of stairs just to knock on your door. Get unleashed. Make space. Then use your brighter, lighter, recommended by 10 out of 10 dentists self to go the hell out there and get it. And this is hard. When you take one step, it’s scary. When you take two, you’re even further from familiar. When you take 17 — and you took them one step at a time — you just might see a whole new world. A place where all the things you thought were crippling you are your magical powers. But you have to take one…then two…to get there.
These three simple steps aren’t simple. I’ve been working on them my entire life and with varying degrees of success (haaahahahahahahhaha “success” ohmigodlemmecatchmybreath — whoooboy that’s a good one).
But what I can tell you is that it’s scary to let things go. It’s scarier to let things in. And it’s goddamned terrifying to move forward.
And it can be incredibly heartbreaking. You’ll leave behind more than you take with you. Like a dog named Hippo and a cat named Peter. A place you lovingly crafted, by hand and by wallet, into a home. The home you’d spent 26 years looking for through 10 cities and two continents. You’ll kiss your in-unit washer/dryer goodbye, twist the button on the doorknob, and pull the door closed — locking the keys to your house and a few to your heart inside.
Then you’ll cry.
You’ll walk to your car in the alley, climb into your car, borderline hyperventilate for a moment, get your shit together, and you’ll crank the ignition and put it into drive.
And you’ll drive 1.5 miles to your new home — which is 1.5 miles closer to where you’re headed.
**inspired by someone who reminded me this week that I’m 1.5 miles closer to where I want to be.