It seems like since I moved to Pennsylvania a little over a month ago, challenges have greeted me at every turn.
First, finding an apartment was a much bigger challenge than I expected. Finally, after weeks of looking, I saw the perfect one on Craigslist. It was close to campus, one bedroom and an office, hardwood floors, two parking spaces, and a beautiful Pennsylvania fieldstone fireplace. Best of all, it allowed cats! What’s not to love? I made an appointment to go see it, and knew instantly that I wanted it. The nine hour drive out to view had been totally worth it. I told the current tenant I was ready to sign, and she called her landlord to let him know…
…And the person who had seen it an hour before was in the office signing the lease.
So, after a few more weeks of Craigslist searching I found a place that was almost as nice, though pretty far from campus. After another trip to Pennsylvania from Indiana, I was set. Problem solved.
So I moved out, I got settled in, and after only two weeks here, I lost my wallet. With my keys attached. This means my car key, apartment key, credit cards, IDs, and Penn State keys are gone, probably lying out in the field where I was setting up nest boxes (I have ordered a metal detector, so this could change). My lovely adviser fed me dinner while we waited on my landlord to return my call, drove me to my apartment where my spare keys were, and lent me the replacement fee for my Penn State ID so I could withdraw money. Problem solved.
Everything went swimmingly for a bit, then today another hit: a flat tire. I am not the type to let cars get to the point where I need to do roadside operations, so I’ve never changed a flat alone. I have also never changed a flat on this particular vehicle. I found all the equipment and, with some encouragement from Wyatt over the phone and a lot of sweating and swearing, I changed the tire. A very nice farmer stopped to see if I needed help, and when he saw I had things in hand he told me to tell my husband that I’m awesome (I did). I immediately drove to a tire place and bought new ones since it needed them anyway. I’m sore and I dropped a lot of money, but I won’t be getting a flat any time soon. Problem solved.
So, things have not been the smoothest for the last couple of months. But in a way, I’m grateful for that.
One thing my adviser said when he was helping me deal with my wallet loss is that we all hate relying on other people, but sometimes we have no choice. That struck me as a simple but very true way of putting what I’ve gone through coming here. I’ve always had my parents, my brother, my friends, or Wyatt to help me. If I had lost my keys in Indiana, Wyatt would have picked me up and used his key to get me into the apartment. We would have used his debit card for my card replacement fee. No muss, no fuss. He or my dad probably would have driven out and helped me change the tire.
Instead, I had to ask my adviser to drive me around to get my spare keys and loan me money, and if I hadn’t been able to get the tire changed I would have had to ask that nice farmer who stopped.
But out here I’m alone, and I’m finding that I’m able to deal with problems. Living alone has forced to me operate without a big support system, and I have had to prove to myself again and again that I can do it. I feel like one of my fledglings being forced to leave the nest. But if we never had to leave our safe zone, how would we ever fly?