For basically all of my adult life, I’ve been in a state of transition.
First, college. Graduation is always looming (without the negative connotation) in the distance. Living in dorm rooms. Dividing your life into semesters. Even eventually moving off-campus into an apartment, it’s still your “college apartment.”
Right after graduation, I moved onto graduate school. Again, temporary by design.
Then, I moved into an apartment for a year to regroup when I didn’t get any out of state jobs to figure out what to do next. But I knew I couldn’t live in that town long-term, so this, too, was purposefully temporary. A bump in a larger road.
After that, I moved to Austin. I’ve been here two years. My lease is up the end of July. When I renew it for August, this will be the longest I’ve lived in the same place since I lived with my parents. Not even the same city – I mean the same physical location.
Over the past few weeks, I realized I’ve been treating Austin like it’s temporary, too.
And in one sense, it is. Everything in life is.
When I moved to Austin, I had it in my head that I would live here for a few years, make a name for myself, and then maybe move on to another artistic city like Chicago or Minneapolis. But my recent trip to Chicago forced me to confront the fact that I’m not sure things would be any easier or better there career-wise.
Again, none of this is to say I plan to stay in Austin forever.
But I’m realizing that if I’ve been here two years already, and plan to be here for the foreseeable future, it doesn’t make sense to not put down roots. I’ve already upgraded some of my furniture, and I’ve found myself thinking about the kind of housing situation which feels ideal to me. I’m not sure I’d want to buy a house here, and I’m fairly certain I couldn’t get a mortgage? even if I did, but I’m starting to think about and craft the kind of life I ultimately want for myself. It feels good.
Sometimes I feel guilty with the extra time off I’ve had the past few months. I could do with a few more cleaning clients so I can do more than make ends meet, but I’m kind of enjoying the down time, too. I have a tendency to overwork myself.
Working a couple shifts at the store, cleaning a few houses a week, and spending time writing has been nice. My brain has more room for creative pursuits.
I like being able to go to the farmer’s market and actually tend my garden. To be able to keep up on projects around the house, or even just sweeping.
Beyond that, I need to be able to strategize pitches to make for my writing, attending open mics around town so I can make more of a name for myself in the local performance scene. All of these things take time. There are plenty of things which are work that I’m not getting paid for right now. If my paid work is less, I have more time, energy, and mental space to actually DO those things, too.
I’ve gotten a few bites about housecleaning, but it’s wait and see whether anyone follows through to an actual appointment. And I’m okay with that for now. I’m getting by, and I can see the life I’ve imagined for myself on the horizon I guess.
Sometimes it’s still hard, and I feel disheartened. Sometimes my bank account is still too empty. But today, I feel hopeful. It may be an uphill climb, but maybe I could build a life for myself here, instead of always putting off my “real” life to commence at some point in the future.
I’m an adult now. This is my life now. Building a life doesn’t mean I can’t uproot it later, if necessary. It just means I will be happier now. It’s okay to make a routine. It’s okay to cultivate a sense of permanence, even if nothing is ever guaranteed.
Maybe I won’t stay here forever. But I’m here for now. Might as well make the most of it.