When I began writing for the post calvin, I told myself that I wouldn’t write about moving.
As my apartment ceiling began to leak copiously in the night, I reminded myself of that promise.
As I searched apartment after ludicrously overpriced apartment, I told myself that everyone moves in their twenties, and no one will want to read another retrospective on it.
“Everyone moves constantly in their twenties!” people love to tell me when I express despair over the toil that yet another major transition takes on my routine-loving heart. “I moved umpteen times in my day!” they say. I don’t point out that umpteen isn’t a real number because hey, I’m not a mathematician, as anyone who has ever listened to me try to add numbers in my head will assure you.
So, this post is not about moving.
Instead, it’s about the ways my life is shifting. Many of these shifts are ones I’ve long hoped for: I have been entering new social spaces on a near overwhelming basis the last couple of months and dreaming up future adventures and hobbies to chase after. I started taking comedy classes, and I’m excited by the possibility of actually pursuing this secret passion in a way I’d never allowed myself before. The version of me that grasped at life and came up empty at the beginning of this year is beginning to take her leave.
But this post is not about her moving.
There’s a stress to the new environments I’ve been relentlessly flinging myself toward, like the feeling of constantly auditioning to be someone’s friend, or the bravery it takes to choose to go somewhere new instead of hermiting away in my apartment. But beyond that, I feel a stiffening worry that the newness will turn sour, that everything will go wrong.
I am afraid of change and I am afraid that things will stop changing, like everything will stutter to a halt and I’ll be back where I was, unmoving.
I tell people that I feel superstitious about gratitude. The seed of this feeling was certainly watered (like the apartment ceiling I’m not writing about) in the pandemic, where every time I expressed gratitude for a new opportunity, it was inevitably taken away. In July, I sit on a swing and tell my Mom that I’m feeling hopeful for the first time in a long time, like the empty spaces in my life may actually begin to fill. Then I knock on wood.
But this post is not about the coworkers who ask me if I’m excited about my beautiful new space, and how nice it must be to have a bedroom now, and I’ll bet you’re not being woken up by that unhinged gamer shaking your walls in the dead of night, right? You must be so hopeful, right?
I tell them I am not taking questions at this time.
When I go back to my old apartment to turn in the keys, I begin to finally see how shoddily it was constructed—how this space, with its broken toilet and booming neighbors, would never love me back. But I try not to feel victorious. I wake up to the sun shining in through a new window after the first uninterrupted sleep in several months, and I allow only a sliver of hope to fill me.
Then I go outside and immediately smash the side view mirror clean off my car.
When I start crying about this new development, the tears are also not about moving. I feel betrayed by joy again, even though the damage is not related to the move and was probably inevitable in a parking space that’s approximately the size of a small pea.
I would like to be brave enough to feel euphoria and gratitude and excitement fully to my core again, like I did as a child. Instead, I watch joy through the corner of my eye. I take a bite out of it when no one is looking, and I try not to chew with my mouth open.
Being the genius of metaphors that I am, I managed to mangle the houseplant given to me as a housewarming gift. I still don’t know whether it was tossed in the move or taken to be revived by my Dad’s green thumb. The uncertainty would be an apt image, if this post were about moving.
But it isn’t. So, I guess we’ll never know.
Hannah McNulty graduated from Calvin in 2021 and stuck around Grand Rapids, against all odds. She has spent her last few years singing in choir, teaching herself to love reading again, and trying to learn every fiber art simultaneously. She currently works at Eerdmans Publishing, where you can find her burying her nose in old paperwork and forcing anyone within earshot to listen to her bad puns.