I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because: (a) I can't afford to hire a human editor; (b) I can't spell; (c) I suck at typing; and, (d) (most importantly), the folks at Grammarly.com offered to give me a $20 gift certificate if I tried their product. I tried it and discovered that my fifth grade English teacher (mentor, guru and head writing muse) has been reincarnated as a website that points out the errors in my writing -- without smacking a ruler across my desk to get my attention.
This past month, I helped my daughter launch her life-as-an-adult, and I moved into a new place of my own.
I've been reminiscing about the first time I moved into an apartment by myself. I've moved a number of times since then, but none of my moves was as exciting as that first one.
When I graduated from college, I got a job in a city about 100 miles away from my parents' home. I had no furniture, but I rented an unfurnished townhouse. (I guess I didn't know you could rent a furnished place.) My dad had an old station wagon that was huge. I had a compact car with a hatchback. We managed to fit all my worldly possessions in the two cars. The largest volume of stuff was comprised of books, record albums (those vinyl things that you put on spindle .... oh never mind. People who had records will understand, and people who don't know what records were probably aren't reading this), and a mattress.
We put the mattress on the floor in the bedroom. We put the portable black & white TV my parents gave me for a graduation present and my record player on a plastic table in the living room. Dad gave me a folding lawn chair from his collection and one of those little square plastic side tables. I had one lamp, which I put by the chair when I was in the living room and carried up to the bedroom if I wanted to read in bed at night.
My mom and my dad's aunt went through their kitchens and put together a collection of kitchen tools from duplicates they owned. I didn't even know the function of half of the tools. I had two plates, a couple of glasses and a coffee mug. The first thing I bought for my new digs was a coffee pot. The second thing I bought was a new record player -- that played records in stereo. I'd sit on the floor in front of the record player with the speakers pointing at the perfect angle and listen to music for hours.
After a bad experience at a laundry mat, I bought an apartment-sized washer and dryer on credit. I was so proud of my purchase I took pictures of it and sent them to my family.
Some friends of my parents, whose home had been demolished by a tornado, gave me draperies. Some of their curtains that were stored in the basement survived the storm. They didn't need them any more because the old curtains didn't fit their new windows, so they gave them to me. The draperies were the nicest thing I owned. For years.
The floors of my apartment were bare and the furnishings Spartan (think: third world.), but I was proud of having a home of my own. I was so happy there (for a while)! It makes me smile to think of it even after all these years. I was young and naive (i.e., stupid) and had no idea how precarious my job was at the time. I didn't know any better, so I was happy.
Moving into a new home should be exciting no matter what your age or station in life. It offers all kinds of opportunities to experience new things.
My daughter is settling into her first apartment. I am settling into my own new place. We are at different places in our lives, but moving into a new home always offers the opportunity to grow. If we're smart, we'll seize that opportunity. Kids know they have a lot to learn. It would be easy for a person who's already lived more than a half-century to think that she already knows everything she needs to know. At my age, a person could switch on the auto-pilot and go through the motions of living. I don't want do that. I want to embrace my new life. I want to learn new things, be as creative as I can be and (most importantly of all) learn to savor small pleasures.
I've spent the last thirty years of my life trying to fulfill the expectations of others (parents, spouse, church community, bosses, and culture in general). I'm done with that. From now on, I'm going to do what I want (at least during the hours of the day when I'm not at work), only because it gives me pleasure.
I'm starting over. I have a much nicer apartment than I did when I was 22. It came fully furnished. I'm allowed to use these beautiful things for as long as I live here. I like that. I can have the benefit of enjoying nice things, but when the day comes that I decide to move again, I don't have to worry about taking any of it with me. The freedom that comes with that is positively exhilarating!
I may be older and (hopefully) wiser than I was in my twenties, but I still have a lot to learn. I'm excited to get on with it.
In addition to enjoying my own adventure, I'm vicariously enjoying my daughter's transition from girl to woman. Occasionally, I give in to the temptation to wax sentimental about my little girl who is now moving on without me. But, most of the time, watching her test her wings makes me happy.