If there’s anything I’ve learned from moving out of my parent’s house and into a place all my own, it’s that I’m both not capable of doing big things alone and that I’m not living my best life when I try.
We could put that on a nice graphic with a rose behind it, and it would be inspirational.
In fact, let’s do.
So I’m not a graphic designer. You still might like it if it showed up in your Facebook newsfeed. Because it’s cheesy and because it’s true.
I was feeling pretty good about my independence level in the whole I’M MOVING OUT saga. I started searching for apartments months before I was ready to commit. I figured out where I wanted to be and went to apartment showings while my parents were out of the country. Heck, I signed my lease while they were out of the country! In-de-pen-dent adult! Hurrah! Wave your flag!
I hadn’t imagined I’d be doing all of those big things alone, but I felt pretty good about it. Sure, my friend Emma was the one who tipped me off to the property I ended up going with, but I’d done everything else by myself.
I started packing, by myself. And kept packing by myself. And going through things by myself. My parents would stop in the doorway of my room and ask how it was going. I’d tell them how many bags of things I was taking to Goodwill and that I’d gotten rid of most of my class notes from high school.
I spent hours and hours and days and weeks cleaning out my 22 years of residence at my parents’ house and would finish each segment feeling exhausted of the process but also triumphant at the progress.
My friends from church downsized about a month ago and offered me a chance to see if I wanted any of their furniture. So I went, excited about the possibility of a nice armchair.
“Oh, I was going through my crystal and found out I had duplicates. Do you want them?”
I accepted and promised her I’d serve chips and guacamole out of them.
A couple weeks later, she gave my mom four bags of things for me at the prayer meeting. Pyrex with lids, pillows, mugs, a vegetable steamer, a plate, bowls., more
I returned the Pyrex I’d bought for myself, checked a few things off my list.
I went through the list of things I still needed to buy with my mom. “Toaster, microwave, hand mixer, knives… oh knives. I don’t know how to buy knives. I want good knives.”
The next day, as I sorted through things, she appeared in my doorway. “Do you want this bread knife? and one of the steak knives?” (steak knives that we use more as paring knives because they work like a dream.
“Yes, but that’s the good bread knife.”
“Is it? Well, you can have it. We have two.”
I’d forgotten about flatware. I moaned about needing flatware. She thought about it for a bit. “Do you want to take one of our sets of flatware? We don’t really need two if it’s just your dad and me.”
And so there were forks and knives and spoons.
A friend from church had a garage sale. I went and bought five plates for $.75 and a DVD for $.25. “What else do you need?” she asked, thinking about the other things she might be clearing out. Somehow, I hadn’t planned on so many other people caring what I needed.
My parents and I had planned to take a few trips back and forth from home to my apartment with both cars. We made small trips during the week, taking over a couple things at at time. I grew weary of all the unlocking and relocking of the doors, the carrying of boxes just heavy enough to be uncomfortable and awkward.
The day of the biggest part of the move my friend texted, “Do you need help moving? Do you want to use my van?” This is no ordinary van. This van took my desk, my bed, my mattress, and a bookshelf, along with a bean bag chair and another box of things. We made one trip between the three vehicles. I hadn’t thought to ask.
I am learning to ask.
After everything was moved in and I’d been living here for a couple days, I tried to put up some shelves. It was simple. All you had to do was find a stud. And if you can’t find a stud, you use an anchor and it’s all good.
I knocked on that wall up and down and left to right, all the while conscious that I had neighbors whom I hadn’t met. Where was that stud? Are there any studs? I decided to just use the anchor. I’ve done this before. No big deal. The neighbors will be okay with it, right? They won’t hate me for making some noise. I just moved in.
Hoping I wouldn’t have anyone stomping to my door, I tried to screw the anchor into the drywall and got 75 percent in. It wouldn’t go any farther. Or maybe I wasn’t using all my strength. Either way, I had no choice but to unscrew the anchor. But when I got it out, the screwdriver wouldn’t come out of the anchor. No matter what I tried. I was tired of trying and feeling remarkably insecure about trying to hang shelves alone when I heard my neighbor make a noise that sounded slightly possibly irritated next door, right after I hammered.
So I invited my parents over for dinner, mentioning the shelves. They had to bring a chair for all of us to be able to sit at my table, but they did. How humbling to be cooking dinner for my parents in the apartment that would not have been had it not been for them, for so many reasons, and not just because I wanted their company but because I needed their help.
I could go on, because there are so many people reflected in my apartment: in artwork, in pictures, in something they gave me because they knew I could use it, in something they took out of their own drawer and handed to me (MOM). In the things they helped carry in or helped me find. I say this all knowing there’s a risk that it’ll sound sappy rather than sincere.
If anything, this whole move is just a concrete picture of most things in life. We get where we are on the shoulders of people who offer themselves and what they have. Our best life is when we support each other. And every time I look around my apartment, I remember that.