Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Writing from Places Unknown

Right now I am sitting in a Barnes & Noble Starbucks.  This would not be a strange thing, except that a) it is Wednesday afternoon and normally I'd be at work and b) I'm in Skokie, IL.  Yes, that's right.  I'm in Illinois.  I hopped a plane to Chicago on Sunday morning and will be here (and the surrounding suburbs) until Saturday.  I've got to tell you, it is sort of great.  I mean, first of all I'm sitting in a Starbucks and not sequestered in my office (awesome!) but secondly I'm on a trip with my best friend Marissa, exploring a place that could potentially be my home in 2 1/2 months.  Yes, you read that right, it is possible that in just a few months I'll be moving to a place I never thought I'd go, THE MIDWEST.  Now, granted, Chicago isn't exactly rural or anything, it is a city like any other (and the Midwest isn't all rural, I know that), but I never imagined myself living in the middle-ish part of the US.  I'm pretty much a bicoastal girl through and through.  I love the ocean.  And while Chicago doesn't have the ocean, it does have Lake Michigan, which is pretty fantastic (and generally big enough to imagine as an ocean).  It also has this great vibe.  Do you know what I mean?  I have a pretty strong sense of the energy of a place--I know when it works for me and I definitely know when it doesn't.  For example, LA?  Yeah, that totally doesn't work for me.  But NYC?  I knew the second I stepped out of the cab the first time I went there that it was the right fit for me.  This is the same feeling I got in Chicago when I went the first time.  We drove onto Lakeshore Drive and I saw it unfurl in front of me and I just...knew.  I knew this could be a potential home for me.
View from Navy Pier.
I have to tell you that this trip, unlike any trip I've taken before, terrified me.  Not that I find cities difficult or scary or anything.  Come on.  Three years in NYC toughened me up.  But this trip is the first step in a series that have very little safety net.  In New York I was there to go to school so I had everything all set up when I arrived--where to live, where to eat, what to do with my time.  Moving back to California was much the same--I had a place to live, food in the cupboards, and a job.  But here?  Here there is none of that.  I have no idea where we are going to live.  And I have no idea where we should eat.  And I most definitely don't have a job (nor can I afford to, as I have in the past, get an unpaid internship that turn into a full time job).  I also don't know a soul in the city.  At least in NYC I knew my uncle was close enough to help if something went terribly wrong.  Here, he's the closest family member to me....and he lives in upstate New York.  I feel brand new, like it is my first time anywhere.  I got lost 3 times getting from our hotel to the bus stop 4 blocks away.  I have (up until today, today I am doing better) no idea where I am in relation to anything.  I feel bold in coming here, trying this choice on for size.  Truly, there is a 50/50 chance this is where I'll end up in June (the alternate choice is NYC.  It all depends on where I can get a job).  And I'm sort of stoked on the idea.  I mean, I'm totally naive to the city and the insane weather that goes on here, but isn't that fantastic?  It is a place where I know no one and no one knows me.  If I wanted to, I could change my personality completely, show the world a whole new Ashleigh (I'm sure this won't happen, but it is pretty awesome that the option is there, right?).  There are very few times that this opportunity (and this risk) to leave it all behind comes up and is actually possible.  I'm fortunate to be young, with no one to support but myself, and able to try something like this.

Right now absolutely nothing is set in stone, but from here until June, things are going to happen really quickly.  There are tons of decisions to be made and things to do to prep, but for now I'm going to just enjoy this little bit of the unknown.


  1. I'm so torn, Ashleigh. I'm all about encouraging people to throw themselves into the unknown, but if NYC is your other option, I think I have to be selfish and try to sway you in that direction. I NEED MORE UKULELE IN MY LIFE!

  2. Secretly, Jackie (ok, not so secretly as I'm writing it here), NYC has totally jumped up to prime position (Sorry Chicago, but I'm a New Yorker at heart). So get ready, because it is looking more and more like you , me, and my ukulele are going to be meeting very soon :)