By Megan Krueger
I was lying on my couch surrounded by an intimidating number of cardboard moving boxes and bins. Inside was everything from our old apartment: our clothes, our dishes, our pictures, our books. Being in this room, on this couch, was a step up from watching “Friends” on a slowly deflating air mattress in the bedroom, I figured.
My husband, leaving for work, kissed my forehead and told me, “Make today a good day.” He had been saying that a lot lately. He could tell I hadn’t been having good days. He swung his backpack over his shoulder and then walked out of the apartment door. He was off to his new job. I was facing another day of watching Netflix and willing myself to apply for another job or unpack one of the stupid boxes.
But I didn’t get up. I didn’t feel like it. It had been about two weeks since we moved from metro Detroit to New York City, and I was feeling about the lowest I ever had. Shrouded in the Harry Potter blanket I’ve had since high school, I busted out in a loud, ugly cry.
I texted my mom: “Mom, I’m so bored. These job applications aren’t going anywhere. I don’t even have the motivation to do anything around the apartment but everything is still packed in boxes. I don’t have anyone to talk to all day and I just watch TV. Then I order stuff online because it feels good temporarily and I don’t even have the money. I need a job.”
This was my February in a nutshell (plus another $600 and a Kate Spade purse later).
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For nearly five years, my day-to-day was pretty much the same. I was living in metro Detroit, just 35 minutes from where I grew up, working in the same role at the same company with many of the same people. It was my first job out of college, and I liked the security of it.
That’s not to say I didn’t love aspects of the work, change as a person or learn a lot over those five years. I grew as a professional, I made new friends, I moved out of my mom’s house, I got married. But there weren’t a lot of curveballs, and I liked it that way — or so I thought at the time. Predictability and normalcy were synonymous in my head with a whole lot less anxiety.
“My husband, leaving for work, kissed my forehead and told me, ‘Make today a good day.’ He had been saying that a lot lately.”
It was in 2016 that I finally felt the itch to try something new. That said, it still took me months just to sign up for Glassdoor job alerts. Dude, I applied for ONE job I thought I’d like. Nothing jumped out to this gal who picked a career at 18 but wasn’t sure if she wanted to do that anymore. It was easier to stay where I was than to sort through that can of worms.
Then in October 2016, my husband approached me with news. He knew his job was ending in several months, and he had been struggling to find work locally. He finally got that coveted job offer!
The big twist? The job was in New York City — and we’d have to be there by February 2017.
Surprisingly, it felt right. The Universe took my “I’m ready to branch out” and handed me back an opportunity for a new adventure. Why were we hanging around Detroit, anyway? We were both in the same boat and feeling as bored as ever. We didn’t have a house of our own, and we had no plans for kids anytime soon.
We had to jump.
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So we did. I sold the 2011 Ford Fiesta I bought in college, a symbol of my first foray into adulthood. I left a job I had long outgrown but was too afraid to admit that to myself. We packed up, rented a car and drove to the Big Apple.
This path is not unlike the one most young adults take at some point. New York City has practically been the fresh-start capital of the world for centuries. Yet now that I’m in it, it feels monumental.
I won’t lie, this has been scary. It really, really sucks some days. I’ve cried. I’ve moped. I finished “Friends.” I spent my 26th birthday in the East Village feeling so homesick I didn’t even enjoy my Nutella pie (!!!). If I imagine myself boarding a Detroit-bound plane right this second, there’s a tenseness in my stomach that releases.
Yet when I look back on the monotony of the life I was living just a few months ago, I know I wouldn’t want it back. As hard as it has been to adjust to a new home, I moved to have an adventure with my little family (three cats included). I moved to see where my career might go and to see who I can be.
Simply put, I moved to live my damn life.
“I spent my 26th birthday in the East Village feeling so homesick I didn’t even enjoy my Nutella pie.”
This story doesn’t have an ending. It’s ongoing. I don’t have a job yet, and I don’t feel like I have found my place. Shit if I know what I’m going to end up doing next week, next month or next year.
What I do have is a husband who loves and supports me and tells me to hang in there. He reminds me that I’m resilient.
I have family and friends back home rooting for me — and consoling me.
I have a new friend who moved from Michigan to Brooklyn around the same time we did. She’s the girlfriend of a college buddy of mine, who also got a job in the city. Now we’re both navigating the job search and venting about it over coffee.
And I have my new favorite routine: morning walks through upper Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park, listening to the podcast “Millennial,” coincidentally narrated by another 20-something named Megan trying to find her way.
Sometimes on my strolls, songs pop into my head. The other day it was “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds. The lyrics reminded me to acknowledge that the harder days are inevitable, but to remember better ones are coming.
Turn, turn, turn
There is a season
Turn, turn, turn”
As the days get progressively brighter, warmer, happier and less bleak, I guess I do, too.
Megan Krueger is an award-winning journalist and metro Detroit expat living in New York City with her husband and three cats. She finally unpacked (most) of the boxes.
You can read her husband Robert’s essay, “Fearlessness: The Great Facade” in Issue 5.