So. It’s been over 3 months since I wrote anything. Well, I’m in grad school, so I’ve been writing, but it’s been about the challenges facing low-income students, not what’s really on my mind.
Life is hard. For the second consecutive year, fall has proven to be a tough quarter. This year, I started going in August with orientation one of two and didn’t pause until, well, now. Plus factor in the fact that it starts getting cold in the fall and you have a recipe for a cranky Kim. Cranky Kim doesn’t like to share her thoughts. It doesn’t help that summer is my favorite season. I love the long days. I love the hot weather. I love how easy it is to get dressed in the morning. I love the possibility that seems to come with every weekend, the joy at every turn. It’s a season of sweating a little all the time, lightning bugs, ice cream after every meal, eating outside, and fireworks. It’s a season of spontaneity.
It was tough leaving summer behind. It was also tough coming from a place that you love back to a place that you don’t really like. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy Chicago. But let’s get technical here: Chicago is not Evanston. And I live in Evanston.
Sorry to those City of Evanston folks and lovers of this place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a great place to live for many, many reasons, and it’s put its best foot forward for me. For example, I live less than a mile from where I work and go to school, and I can roll out of bed and stumble to Pure Barre. So essential. Having an easy commute (easy as in I can walk as slow as I’ve left myself enough time for) has been such a blessing and it’s been great to be able to come home and chill or change before my night classes.
It takes about an hour to get anywhere I want to go in the city (see above). Which is a huge barrier to going to see my friends who live there. And has been a huge barrier to developing those friendships further. And on a recent night when I did go visit a friend, I was struck by the difference between my neighborhood and hers: hers was alive with young people commuting home at 7 pm. Mine is usually quiet with a few middle-aged/older folks and some students wandering around at that time and dies out at 9:30 pm. Wow!! Just amazing. I had never realized how quiet, people-wise, my neighborhood was until then, and I live on one of the main streets!
I truly do believe that I needed to live where I do for convenience, and the sake of taking care of myself. Can anyone else imagine me sitting on the train for an hour or driving half an hour with a migraine? Nope. But it is something for me to keep in mind as I move on to the job search. What kind of neighborhood do I want on nights and weekends? How long of a commute am I willing to make to get to that neighborhood? How many schools will I even have this kind of choice? I’m glad to be learning these things about myself now – that’s what grad school is for.
As the new year approaches, I’m already thinking about how I can develop the friendships I have in Evanston, and how I can be strategic about getting into Chicago more. It won’t be easy, but I know it will be worth it. Winter is even harder than fall because it gets colder, but I know that I need friends to lean on now more than ever and will be looking for things to do to keep me occupied and happy through this tough season. Plus, my days in this city are numbered, and I don’t want to leave these friendships behind when I eventually move. Who knows – maybe I’ll bring back my good old summer challenge for the winter and tweak it a bit!! I can never pass up a good challenge!