Welcome to DC!

by Tabitha Kidwell

Tomorrow is move-in day! I seriously could not be more excited! I’m having elaborate fantasies about really banal things like hanging my clothes on hangers, putting food in the refrigerator, and closing the door to my own room. Since I closed up shop at 222 W 2nd Ave three years ago, I haven’t really had my own space. Yes, I had a sweet little house in Indonesia, but it always felt temporary. And, yes, my mom and step-dad have very generously let me live with them for months at a time, but most of my belongings were still in boxes at the back of their crawl space.

So I’m excited to unpack my belongings, but I’m excited for the abstract things, too. Since 2014 started, I haven’t been in the same place – like, sleeping in the same bed, leaving a toothbrush on the sink – for longer than 10 days at a time. In India, I was shuffling between the rural school and the volunteer house in the city. On the Camino, I was moving every day, with all my belongings on my back. And since I drove to DC on July 5th, I have been shuttling between friend’s houses, sleeping on couches and in guest rooms. (Thanks, guys!)

As you can imagine, this has started to wear on me. I felt a real urgency to get here and get settled – I could have stayed in Columbus this month, but I just wanted to be here, starting the life I’ll lead for the next 5 years. I looked at some apartments whose leases started immediately or on July 15th, but the one I ended up choosing didn’t start until August 1st, so I found myself in limbo for a few weeks. I wanted to put down roots but had nowhere to put them. I wanted to start a routine but didn’t really have anything to do. I found this really stressful and overwhelming, and I think I went through a bit of a depression. I had a week or two where everything I tried to do seemed insurmountable. I couldn’t imagine being able to grocery shop and cook for myself. I didn’t have the energy to go out running or even wake up before 10 AM. I just didn’t feel like myself. To make things worse, I went to the first meeting of my “research team” at UMD, coming into the half-finished research, and didn’t understand half of what we were talking about. I had a minor panic attack walking back to the metro that day, with the five long years of grad school looming impossibly before me. I thought I had been looking forward to the idea of staying in one place for awhile, but it suddenly seemed terrifying.

So I blew this popsicle stand, and that helped a lot. I took the megabus up to New York to throw a bachelorette party for my friend Claire, visit my friends Libby, Iris, and Kate, and go to a wedding in Jersey. After a week away with good friends, I felt really excited to come back to town. As we drove into the city, I realized “I live here now.” I felt like I was coming home. And after tomorrow, I will actually have a home! A home with no furniture*, but you’ve gotta start somewhere.

*correction: I just found a futon on the sidewalk with a “free” sign, so I think I’m pretty much set.

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