I waved goodbye to summer and to my parents at 4:30 Saturday afternoon as I dropped them off at the Chicago O’Hare airport (and promptly got lost as I drove myself back to my new home away from home).
The rest stops in the Chicago area are called oases, an ironic term in my mind since my time in this city has been anything but an oasis.
I arrived Wednesday evening, earlier than anticipated, and dumped my carload of boxes into my new bedroom. That sight alone was overwhelming. Being the fourth roommate and the most recent addition to the already well-lived in apartment, “my” space was limited. I opted to spend the night with my parents and face unpacking the next day.
Thursday morning was dedicated to signing my new apartment lease. Unfortunately, the lease couldn’t be typed without approval from my previous land lady, all the way in Let-Me-Take-A-Week-To-Get-Back-With-You, South Carolina. Without the lease, my hopes of switching over my license and license plates were dashed.
I turned my attention to switching my car insurance from South Carolina to Illinois. The internet led me to believe there was a branch of my current auto insurance a mile down the road from my apartment, but when I arrived at the location, I discovered that the internet was incorrect: my auto insurance company works from home: Off to Staples to print, sign, scan, and email the paperwork to the in-home car insurance office.
That accomplished, I decided to get fingerprinting out of the way. I drove through several tolls (without paying) on the interstate in search of the fingerprinting company. Once again, the internet was incorrect. Wherever my GPS had taken me, it was not a fingerprinting company. At least there was a bank next door, so I exchanged four one-dollar bills for four dollars in dimes and nickels (to pay the cash-only tolls). Another search on the internet revealed that only one fingerprinting company was open on Thursdays. At least there was one.
On my way back from being fingerprinted, the office of my new apartment complex called to inform me that the lease had been approved based on my previous rental history and that two leases were now ready to be signed: one lease that expires on August 13th and one that comes into effect on August 14th. My roommates, who had already signed the renewal lease, had to resign it and sign another lease in addition (and all because I needed proof of residency for the DMV).
Thursday evening would have been a relaxing evening spent at IKEA, except that I needed to purchase shelving and creative storage units with money I didn’t have. It pays to have a sister with more money than you do. At least the purchases have helped to make “my” space feel a little more like home.
Friday morning was dedicated to the DMV. After eating homemade corned beef hash in Barrington, I went to the DMV where I was told the “nice” people worked. The information desk worker was nice. He warned me that I would need to retake the written test in order to get an Illinois license and then opened the driving test booklet to the most important information for me to study: road signs (they are unlike any road signs I’ve seen in Greenville). Since the DMV with the nice people do not provide license plates, I went to another DMV that would take care of both. I got my license with only a few foibles. The letters for the eye exam kept blinking on and off. No one told me I needed to press my forehead on the dirty machine in order to keep the letters on the screen, and why would I volunteer my forehead to a dirty button? I was concerned that my organs might be harvested before I were truly dead if I signed up to be an organ donor, a fear that gave the DMV worker an opportunity to reenact what harvesting organs from a live donor would look like. I wonder how long she’d been waiting for me to show up.
After getting my license plates (on a separate ticket, of course, and even longer wait line), I had to edit my new license because I had not given the worker my apartment number. Apparently in Illinois mail won’t get to you without an apartment number, and I rather think I need my license.
With the DMV taken care of (a true miracle), I had the information needed to apply for an I-Pass. Thankfully, I got an I-Pass the day before I took my parents to the airport and conveniently drove right past four tolls. For someone who is a stickler for obeying rules, the stress of not paying tolls is overwhelming. My first call to my dad after I got home was about paying tolls online and how do you pay a toll if you don’t know if there was a toll but what if there was a toll and you missed it?
Friday evening my dad tried to assemble my shelf from IKEA, only to discover that I needed a drill and screws. My tool collection now includes a hammer, a flat screwdriver, a Phillips screwdriver, a wrench, and a drill. The only tools I came to Illinois with were the hammer and the flat screwdriver. After buying the wrench, my dad was able to put my license plates on my car, at least the plate at the back end. My Volvo didn’t have a plate holder on the front. My dad called the Volvo dealership nearby and learned that all the car dealerships were on strike. After an eternal wait, he heard from a company farther out that would mount a plate holder on the front of my car the next morning.
With just a few hours before departure, my dad got the front license plate on the car and assembled my shelf.
I know looking at this last week that God’s grace permeated every chore on my to-do list. That my dad was able to help me accomplish so many of my adulting tasks before leaving is miraculous. That God orchestrated my entire life to this point in this place with these people is obvious. I know He will help me during this change.
I just got off the phone with my family. I hadn’t wanted to call because I’m still consistently on the verge of tears, and I didn’t want my first conversation with them to be sad. Oh, well. I know I need to let myself cry the tears out and grieve over the loss of my home. I guess I’m putting it off because I know that as soon as I let myself have that moment, it will be time to stop the self-pity and move on with my life where God has placed me. Until that time, I am keeping myself busy: I got through an entire month of lesson plans and read the book of Psalms today. But I miss being able to work on the floor of my old living room, knowing that my sister is in the bedroom watching Netflix or reading a book and might come out to get a glass of water or a snack of pepperoni.
Perhaps a year from now, I will look back and find that Chicago has been an oasis for my soul. And if that happens, it will be by the grace of God.