First week reflection

I’ve finished my first full week in Philly. It’s evening now and I’m alone in my room, fueled by an off-brand PopTart, listening to music. It’s a good atmosphere to reflect. So, what have I done this week? And how do I feel about it? Time for a list!

> I’ve turned this bare & spare room into a home (with Bob’s help.)

Curtains were bought. Floors were washed. Routines, established—and I am cozy. Every night when I go to bed, I smile because I’m young, free, strong, and feel good about what I’m doing with my life. And that makes me feel pretty lucky.

> I’m quickly adjusting to driving and riding.

Last weekend, I tested the waters of SEPTA and brushed up on parallel parking, a skill I haven’t had to use much in the five years since I first learned it. On my hectic, 20-mile commute I feel unusually confident, but nonetheless, I’ve developed a plan to keep me occupied near my office until traffic calms down and I can go home with less stop-and-go.

> I’m gonna get fit!

I signed up for a Planet Fitness membership and met with a trainer to get a schedule. I have a three-day cycle of exercises and I’m hoping to go at least three times a week. I feel good about it! My boyfriend even went with me today. We were a gym couple and I’m sure everyone loved us (read: sarcasm).

> Work doesn’t suck.

Training has actually been going well. I think I’ll be ready to do the work when training ends next week, and by the end of the summer it’ll all be second nature. The work involves attention to detail, the ability to ask the right questions to get information, and communication skills in general. It’s not the most exciting job, but the experience is good and it’ll help me make some money!

The company seems good, too. I have to be hesitant—it’s an insurance company, after all!—but they’re teaching us to maximize payouts for claims and seem to value people as people, not just as moneyholders. Seems great! Aside from all that, my fellow summer workers seem cool, and I may have even made a friend. We’ll see!

> I’m getting engaged!

Oh, not like in the sense of marriage. I mean I’m getting engaged with the city and finally finding ways to meet people, ways that actually suit my interests and abilities. Chatting up strangers over beers is not among my abilities, so I’ve been looking into other possibilities; I’m not too proud to admit that the Internet is my main tool here. I’ve wanted to live in Philadelphia since I was in high school, and I’ll be damned if I let this summer slip by without collecting a library of experiences!

 

That’s what this is about. I could have stayed home and worked in the factory to make money for the next step. I would have had such few expenses and my old friends would have been near. But I chose this, and it was the right choice. Come September, I’ll have so much experience under my belt: lovelife lessons, work experience, city skills, and who knows what else. (New recipes, probably, if my crazy kitchen-crowding housemates have their way with me.) Ha—I might even be cool.

I am not moving too fast

The decision to get an apartment with Bob in Philly feels so natural. I gave it adequate consideration, asking myself whether I trust Bob and how I expect to share everything with him. And I asked the big question: Are we moving too fast?

Well, I do trust Bob and we do feel compatible. “Too fast” is relative, anyway; I think our pace is fast, but comfortable. Still, after explaining my plans to friends and family, I’ve realized that from the outside of the situation, it’s easy to question and criticize what I’m doing, often with good intentions. They don’t want to see me get hurt. After all, Philly is dangerous and Bob and I have been together for only four months.

In April I found out I’ll be leaving the country for a year on a Fulbright grant in September. This awesome news kick-started my summer planning into a frenzy of summer job applications and summer housing hunts. Bob and I had already talked a little about living together after I finished school, and the Fulbright notification meant that we would only have the summer together before I left for a year. I wanted to seize whatever time I had with him! I must have looked at about forty apartment leads and applied to a dozen summer positions, and somehow it worked out that my only stable job offer coincided with the only successful apartment find.

So here we are now. I wrote this from my Philly apartment. I spent the day driving, moving, cleaning, and rearranging, but eventually I was shower-fresh and waiting for my main man to arrive and see my progress. (He had to work all day and moved in late.) We’re both excited. This little white room in North Philly is a challenge and a chance in our relationship. We’re going to learn a lot about each other, about this city, and about ourselves. Not only will our relationship grow this summer, but so will we as individuals. And I’m not scared of the consequences of any of that growth.

This living situation is risky. I might get hurt or robbed, or maybe my car will get beat up or broken into. It’s risky for my relationship with Bob, too: sharing a small space with anyone will create tension. But tension is healthy. Without it, there would be no balance. Without tension, there’d be no music coming from my guitar! :) So I’ll close this on a musical note with a metaphor. I’m going to play this situation and make sweet music out of it. And I’m going to do it with the man of my dreams… I’m lucky.