It’s Not You, It’s Me: Charlotte, I’m Leaving You.

I recently confessed to my mom that 2016 has been the worst year of my life. She immediately questioned me and reminded me how bad 2013/2014 was for me. I had spent most of that time in and out of the emergency room, seeing specialists, having procedures and tests done and seeing my acupuncturist to treat a mysterious sickness and the chronic fatigue I was suffering from prior to my corn allergy diagnosis.

How could this year be worse? I can’t seem to make the right decisions. I feel like I’ve been taking steps in so many directions that haven’t led me to a place that I actually want to be. Being sick for all that time gave me lots of time to meditate and reflect on my life. I ultimately built up the courage to break down the barriers keeping me from creating a life that would truly make me happy. That’s when I came back to Charlotte.

Fast Forward to Present

As I look back on the past two years that I have been living here in Charlotte, I am truly living that life I wanted. I have created this bike-centric, minimalist life that feels so comfortable. I have unlocked a passion for building community and for creating art that I have always felt in my heart, but couldn’t quite put words to define it.

The best part of my time here I have met the most incredibly talented people that just make my heart happy to know. I was welcomed into a community of creatives that not only are doing amazing things, but have shown endless support and encouragement of all of my endeavors in pursuit of my own dreams.

I’m confident that these relationships I have are strong and will outlast any amount of miles between us. We have co-created so many important memories and it is extremely difficult for me to understand that by following my heart and leaving Charlotte, I also have to leave behind all the opportunities to make more of this beautiful life.

As with any breakup, there are things that are never lost and I have so many great things that I will take with me.

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Displacement.

The past four months I have watched the life I created begin to crumble.  I have been displaced since September because of a living situation that was chaos from day one.  I left my small studio apartment for a beautiful house that had an oasis of a backyard garden.  I absolutely went against my gut when signing that lease agreement, because with my rose-colored glasses I could have never predicted how disastrous it would turnout to be.

I’m not into airing anyone’s dirty laundry, so we can go a head and blame it on clash of personalities. But, this chapter of my life ends with me not having a place to call home, without my security deposit (which I was overcharged for), emotionally, mentally and financially drained. I am left feeling like an absolute fool for giving someone, whom I once considered a friend, the benefit of the doubt.

Displacement in general is extremely difficult for me. I need to have my place to unwind, I need to have my place to create, to write, to meditate. Without this, comes ultimate confusion.

I’ve always managed to make a stable home for myself since I moved out on my own when I was 18.  Now, I haven’t had that in four months.  I’ve been endlessly searching for an affordable, convenient and pet-friendly place to live in Charlotte and it just isn’t happening. Real estate is unreal right now. Places are being rented within hours of them being listed online and I just seem to be three steps behind, every time.

Re-interpreting My Situation.

A friend of mine offered his apartment to me while he traveled for the month of October. I’ve been hopeful and positive that I would find a place to live before he returns next week, but as that day got closer and closer I’ve felt my perspective shifting.

With all of my belongings packed into a small storage unit, I’ve been living out of a couple of baskets of things.  I began to feel the freedom these rather shitty circumstances actually held for me.  I realized that I can literally go anywhere and maybe I needed to open up to opportunities outside of Charlotte.

I took a step back and allowed myself to see a wider perspective of my life. Whether I speak to actual having my own physical home or to finding a career space where I actually feel fulfilled by what I have created, I can no longer see where I belong in Charlotte.

My Many Homes

I’ve said it so many times before, establishing yourself in multiple places is so magical. Home has never been about places to me, home is about love.

Whether it has been at my job at Smelly Cat, the cycling community, the art community or even my online community of internet friends.  I am absolutely blessed to have found the love I have in my life from so many different places.

My time in Charlotte has led me to meeting so many important people and also allowed me to cross paths with many friends I’ve known for nearly a decade but never had actually met “in real life” because we’ve literally known each other from the internet since highschool.  This has been absolutely thrilling and fulfilling, but I’ve realized that giving and receiving all of this love has left me seriously disconnected to my own self-love.

I no longer know what truly makes me happy or how to comfort myself.

Moving Back to Madison

I recently traveled home to Wisconsin and spent a lot of time wandering around Madison by myself. I brought my bike. I went to the farmer’s market, I spent hours sitting at the lake watching the sunrise and the sunset.

The normalcy I felt there made me realize that the life I’ve created in Charlotte makes so much more sense in another place, my other home.  Just as quickly as I drew this conclusion, doors opened for me. I found an apartment so quickly. I signed a lease with my brother at a cute place in downtown Madison, just one block from the lake.  I already have two job interviews lined up for when I arrive next weekend.

Uneasiness

I don’t want anyone to think I have regretted any bit of my time in Charlotte.  The fast-pace of all this change and decision making has left me with very little time to fully process what I am doing.  AKA, I’ve been balling my eyes out for the past three days, attempting to gather my words, make sure not to forget a goodbye, minimize my things and make the arrangements to move across the country in less than a week.

As I prepare to leave this city a second time, I can’t help but reflect on it according to my bike life.  I think back to every mile I have ridden my bike here. Each one represents the tireless chase to find the moment of zen and comfort I can find almost instantly when I arrive in Madison. Every one of those miles has allowed me to explore, discover and grow as a person, but has also taken me farther away from person I really am at the core.

While Charlotte is growing, building a new infrastructure, revising the old patterns and creating some sort of cultural identity, I realize that the excitement and anticipation of all these new things wears off. At this point, I no longer believe that my core identity will ever comfortably align with Charlotte’s core identity.  This is a bittersweet conclusion to the beautiful, fulfilling and life full of love and opportunity that Charlotte has given to me.

 

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