Rebooting Our Lives in the US

Wow.  I am exhausted.

I'm ready to admit that I underestimated how difficult this process would be.  When we were dismantling our lives a year ago before we left Chicago, I remember feeling stressed.  I remember my schedule being jam packed with wrapping up work and seeing friends and buying trip gear and lots and lots of strangers coming to my house to buy and haul away my furniture.

Now, on the other end, I'm realizing how much work it is to re-start a life back in the US, especially in a new city.  At least when we were purging everything, people came to us to take our stuff away.  Now our schedule seems like an endless list of places to go and things to buy. 

Despite feeling like it may never end, I'm reminded that we've already done a lot in a brief period of time.  

  • See our people in Atlanta and Chicago: Check
  • Haul ourselves and our stuff to Denver: Check
  • Find an apartment in Denver: Check
Happy to have found a new home. Celebrating in our second home, Target.

Happy to have found a new home. Celebrating in our second home, Target.

One thing is clear to me: having no stuff is way easier than having lots of stuff.  

We were carless for a year and already in the past few weeks we've had our brakes replaced, our transmission worked on, and yesterday our check engine light came on.  My car only has 70k miles on it, but the list of things to check, maintain and fix seems endless with cars.

While the process of re-furnishing an apartment has been fun at times, it's also stressful.  We're trying to stick to a tight budget, which means we can't just order things new and drink wine in our new place while the moving dudes bring them right to our door.  

We basically re-bought our kitchen at Goodwill for $38.

We basically re-bought our kitchen at Goodwill for $38.

This makes buying bigger furniture a challenge.  The other night we drove 45 minutes to the burbs to see a great looking couch on Craigslist.  We bought it for $40 (amazing), but had to find a Home Depot nearby, rent a pickup truck, return to the seller's place to load the couch, drive 45 minutes back to our new apartment in the city, move the couch in (another test of a real marriage.  I swear we should have a counselor present next time we try to move a large heavy thing by ourselves), drive the pickup 45 minutes back out to the burbs to drop it at Home Depot, get in our car and do the 45 minutes back home.  And that was just one piece of furniture. 

Our "new" $40 couch. Was it worth all of the driving?

Our "new" $40 couch. Was it worth all of the driving?

Nate and I also relate to material things differently.  On our originally scheduled move-in date, we swung by our apartment leasing office to pick up keys only to find out that there had been a mix up with our paperwork and we weren't able to move in for a few more days.  Normally, this would be fine, but tensions had been running high and after a full year of living out of backpacks and sleeping in other people's houses, we were SO ready for our own place.  Rather than just admitting that we were bummed about the screw up, we decided to get in a monumental fight in the Goodwill parking lot.  The gist was this: I'm cheap and would rather buy the lowest priced thing IF and when we absolutely need it.  Nate airs on the side of investing up front for a quality thing that will last and not break next week.  Neither of us is right or wrong, but this inherent difference means that spending tons of money to acquire stuff is a stressful process for us, and we both have to manage our expectations and bend. 

Nate and Lil at the hotel in Omaha on our two-day drive out to Colorado.

Nate and Lil at the hotel in Omaha on our two-day drive out to Colorado.

Like most of our arguments, our fight ended with us crying and talking about how lucky we were to be married to each other.  Of all of the people I have ever fought with, Nate's the best.  I'll give us that- we can figure out conflict pretty well.

So acquiring stuff is hard, and spending this much money with no foreseeable paycheck feels icky to me.  But we need a mattress (even though we're just putting it directly on the floor), and we need a table to work at.  And preferably a chair or two to sit on.  And toothpaste.

At the grocery store the other day while I stood dazed in the condiment section paralyzed by the wall of possibilities, it dawned on me that I could buy a full-sized mayonnaise container.  Like the full, regular-sized one.  Because guess what guys.  I'm going to be around to eat all of it, even if that takes months!  (Wait does mayo last that long?  I hope so).  

That hasn't happened in over a year.

My natural state at this point is to buy travel-sized everything and to question all liquid purchases because of that pesky 6 oz. airline limit.  I'm also completely used to thinking about acquiring things in weight because my pack on the trip was carry-on sized, and, while new stuff is fun, hauling it on your back over cobble-stoned streets is not.

But no more!  I can buy heavy things!  I can buy full mayo containers!  

It's the little things that seem weird and new again.  

Aside from the fact that I officially live in Denver in a real-life, grownup apartment, it doesn't yet feel that way.  I don't think it's sunken in that we won't be leaving in a week or so after this interesting but sort-of stressful Colorado vacation.

When I moved to New Mexico and then to Chicago, I remember feeling the same way, so that's normal for me.  I think once things settle down and our days aren't jam packed with grocery lists and furniture runs, I'll start to do things that feel like home.  I'll take Lily for long walks in our new neighborhood.  I'll get a library card and check out books.  

Early morning dog walks mean we get to enjoy the sun rise.

Early morning dog walks mean we get to enjoy the sun rise.

Already I feel excited about our decision.  The days have been sun soaked and 60-degrees, and I can't say I miss the dark, freezing Februaries of Chicago.  Whenever we head anywhere in the city, we can see the massive Rocky Mountain range covered in snow, and I'm starting to feel excited about future hiking and ski trips.

For now, I'm just focused on the dust settling and getting to enjoy this new place we're calling home.