Monday, August 6, 2012

My Shit-hole Apartment (Part 5)

If you stuck with me on this journey so far, congratulations! You're my favorite (don't tell the others.) 

Living Away From Home Year 4.6
Moving Back Home
(Dear God, What Have I done)

I was very fortunate that my parents had set aside money for me to go to college and so I was not stuck with having to battle the fustercluck nightmare that is student loans. For this, I am forever grateful to my father and his money-managing know-how. My dad managed my college fund for me, and he said as long as I graduated within four years with acceptable grades he would continue to give me money from the college fund to pay for tuition, living expenses, books, etc. If there was any money left over after graduation, I could have it as a graduation gift. I think this was a very generous deal, and I kept my half of the bargain, and graduated in four years with a decent GPA and little debt. 

Statistically in the last two decades or so, it has been more and more common for college graduates to move back home with their parents for a brief time while they get on their feet. Seeing as how more and more grads are moving home after graduation, there's no real shame in it, and it's not always as horrible as it sounds.

Seriously, it's totally fine.
All that aside, to say that the transition home was difficult would be the understatement of the century. I have a tough time dealing with life changes as it is, but going from having the most freedom with the least responsibility I will ever have in my life, to living under my parents' roof and having to find the balance of freedom/responsibility/respect for one another only added to the stress I already felt. After the weirded-out feeling of moving back into my childhood room subsided, I got into a routine and started to plan my future. I took the "leftovers" from my college fund and put it into a savings account to start saving to move to New York. I worked two part-time jobs and spent most of my free time either sleeping or playing video games/watching movies in my room. I rarely went out, and the only major expenditures I made were for caring for my beloved ferrets (whom my step-dad hated and had banished to our basement.) I spent less than 9 months living with my mom and step-dad, but it felt so much longer. This was mostly because I was still suffering from untreated anxiety and depression and the guilt and low self-esteem that tend to accompany mental illness. Because of the lying bastard that is depression, I felt even more worthless and like a failure because I no longer felt independent while living at home. I felt very stuck and yet like I didn't belong anywhere at the same time, it was a lonely rocky stretch in my adult life.

Eventually the light at the end of the tunnel appeared, and I could actually solidify plans to move to the east coast. With the emotional long-distance support of my cheerleaders -my friend Tommy, and Not-Yet-Boyfriend-At-The-Time, I managed to get and keep my ass in gear and set a goal date to move out east.  Even with that support, things were still a little tumultuous on the home front. The day before Thanksgiving, I had to make the heart-breaking decision put my beloved ferret, Boomer to sleep.  He was the first pet I'd ever lost (not counting fish.) I can't say he was my "favorite" pet because that's like saying you have a favorite child, but I did feel like I had a special connection with him. He was the alpha male in my business* of ferrets, but he had the sweetest temperament and was very well-behaved.  He was very special and I loved him like he was my own child.  To lose him after only having him in my life for 3 short years was soul-crushing.
I had found a lump in his stomach one day while playing with him and so I made an appointment with the vet to check him out. After a thorough hands-on examination, the vet determined that Boomer had a tumor on his spleen (a very common and treatable ailment in ferrets) and so we scheduled Boomer for emergency surgery to remove the tumor and/or his spleen. Unfortunately, no one was prepared for what they found in surgery. Boomer had a very rapid moving form of Lymphoma that had grown so large so quickly, it was wrapping tumors around his organs and his bowels. The vet sadly informed me that Boomer maybe had 3 weeks to live. But, Boomer was a fighter. Miraculously instead of 3 weeks, we got almost 3 more months together. I had time to make my peace with the situation, and time to say good-bye.

Post-surgery snuggles
Copyright Jessica Ayers
Not only was Boomer's passing an emotional setback, but it was a major financial setback too. Thankfully, I still had my human cheerleaders, and I had my other 2 ferrets to take care of, so I could not afford to have the depression and despair overtake me. I was determined to keep pushing through, to keep moving forward. On top of my distress at losing my pet, I wasn't always getting along so well with my parents. I think my mom was really hurt and sad and scared that I wanted to move to NY so badly. I was born in NY, and I grew up hearing stories about my parents' life there before and with me.  I felt drawn there my whole life. Plus, now I had a dream to be a performer and the perfect place to follow that dream was straight to the Big Apple. I couldn't seem to make my mom understand that it was my dream and it was calling me and I had to do it as soon as possible, or else I might never do it. Any time I tried to explain it to her, I would say it wrong and she would take offense as though I were telling her I was trying to get away from her. Or I would get so emotional about it that I would break down and cry and my message would be lost amid tears and frustration.

Despite the emotional and financial setbacks, I eventually made the 1800-mile move from Colorado to the east coast in March of 2007 with the support of my parents. There were tears and sleepless nights and loooooong hours on the road, but I did it. Since I was a baby when we originally moved out of Manhattan, I have no memories of living anywhere other than Colorado. Let's just say I was in for some culture shock.

To Be Continued...


*A group of ferrets is referred to as a "Business" of ferrets. I bet you never knew that. Now you do! You're welcome.

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