Fall 2006: Chicago with Caitlin
We agree about everything. We’re complimentary, even in our most contrasted moments. We’re going to be roommates in Chicago this September.
So many things make us work. Hardwood floors. Walking distances. A craving for the reggae night scene. She wants an acoustic guitar for graduation, and I was thinking of requesting a set of bongos. You know, to bang on once in a while. For the days when I’d typically consider banging on a stranger’s head. We can wail on our instruments after rough days at work. We both wear skirts the way most people wear boxers. We like incense and prefer open windows to air conditioning. We don’t care about dishwashers or cable TV. Heating in the winter, as I found out, is something we both consider repairable through blankets, not high energy bills. We believe in simple living and don’t like tacky art work. She wants to cook in and avoid eating out. I am setting a new life budget which drastically cuts out my fine dining. I’m loud and aggressive. She’s meek and accommodating. We’re both feminists. We’re both observers. We share belief systems. We are devout readers. We’ll have yellow lighting and soft pillows. Our dish towels will be old; decorated with brown and orange flowers of the 1973 variation. We will have mismatched plates and afford ourselves the luxury of fresh flowers on the kitchen table now and again. I’ll learn how to eat like a vegetarian; she’ll get the secrets to the Pellicori sauces and raviolis. She runs therapeutically. I do dance workouts. We want to exchange outlets. We want to take art classes at a community center. We’re not worried about furniture. We relish the thought of queen sized beds. We have the same taste in people.
I knew it’d come down to this. I loved Caitlin upon first meeting her. She smiles for all of humanity and yearns to accomplish enough to remedy all the hurt she sees. Her ability to be cooperative and directive simultaneously give any scene a sense of harmony. She’s a natural guide. When we were resident assistants together, we’d sneak away from the hustle and have coffee. I always talk more; she prefers to listen. One of the few left. When she has a point, it’s clear – it’s what she feels. Caitlin doesn’t calculate answers. She knows what she thinks. When she’s unsure, she humbly admits her ignorance and accepts perspectives. Her idea of makeup is mascara and lip gloss. And without any kind of mask or low-cut top, she is easily the prettiest girl in most rooms. Her frame is small; she wears it under fleece and comfortably worn denim. Most of her earrings are earthy and dangle. She wears practical shoes. She carries the weight of old relationships because her compassion worries about the people she once loved – still loves. Unlike the many in my path of admiration, I don’t loathe anything about her. I don’t pine after ways to be her. Because she’s so pure of imitation herself that it’d be impossible to try. I’m not jealous. I’m only grateful. And now she’s going to be my roommate.
I can look down the road to September, and I see a two bedroom apartment only a few blocks from an L stop. Maybe in Wicker Park. I hear garbage trucks picking up our garbage as we drink our fair trade coffee in dingy old mugs and get ready for work. I smell basils and pesto. I dream of the possibility of an arm chair and hanging plants to keep things green during the winter freeze. I imagine guests wearing glasses and toting messenger bags. It all fits.
My notion of the future has been transformed drastically in the past few days. Before Caitlin and I confirmed that we’d be living together, I was afraid. Scared shitless. I was easily brought to tears by discussions of jobs, new friendships, having to pay for a gym membership. I couldn’t see past June 1st. I couldn’t make decisions. I was finally adjusting to the idea of trying Washington D.C. again. I was starting to consider moving in with him
. It was becoming easier to replace my ambitions of a selfish future with my raw emotion to be with someone I love. I thought that opening up to being in love in Washington D.C. with him was a better way to prioritize. That hey, if other things like a job and a place to live aren't working out, why not? I told myself it was better for me – to get the love thing down first. I almost made some big decisions. In his direction. Not in my own. Which is the only direction I’ve ever gone. I suppose it’s a part of being goal oriented. A dreamer. I’ve always believed in what Ayn Rand said about love – it’s necessary to find a me before a we. And I'm just on the brink of getting something going on this me thing.
Which is why it’s a wonder that just as plan E was about to unfold, plan A called me up looking to fill a roommate position. It’s odd to admit that I would have avoided Chicago without a roommate, but I lack financial stability and the patience to adapt to strangers in my living space. I think I’d get a padlock for my bedroom door if forced to utilize a roommate service. Who wants to live like that? Besides, I may be independent, but I hate being alone. More than I hate being wrong. I can’t be wrong if I do what’s in my heart… and I know what’s in my heart. It’s Chicago – in a two bedroom apartment with an easygoing, independent, non-committed roommate. With Caitlin. So we can do whatever we want together, but also separate enough to re-meet ourselves in a new city. To grow up. Officially. At our own paces, not at the hands of our boyfriends. Not on someone else’s terms. We’ll be free. We’ll be selfish in a way we aren't allowed to be now.
The last time I knew where I was going to end up was in the spring of 2002. I chose Marquette and felt peace. I know where I am going again. Which makes being here in Milwaukee, with the ones I love the most, invaluable. Now my greatest concern is how I’ll spend my summer. How much fun I'll have. I’m going to Chicago in September, and I have a summer to plan. That’s all I need to know or decide at this point. And occasionally, Caitlin and I will make other decisions, such as what kinds of window coverings to decorate with. And we’ll agree.
Such a novel concept, really.