Defection.

To be honest, I wrote this post in advance. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to write it before leaving. I know myself. I suck at goodbyes. Seriously, I cry like a baby when I have to say goodbye to one person. Saying goodbye to my entire home? Nope. Nope. Nope.

So, this is my goodbye letter to Valpo.

Dear Valpo,

Hi. It’s me, Katy. Remember me? I’m the girl who grew up in the purple house. I’m the girl with the dorky red glasses and the oversized shirts. I’m the girl who struggled to find herself for years and years and never seemed perfectly happy. Well, it’s been 30 years since you became my home and in that time I’ve changed. Long gone is the shy, awkward girl in the purple house. Now I am a confident and utterly awesome woman with much cooler glasses and a fondness of low cut shirts.

I’m sorry to tell you this, but I have to leave you. I know. It’s hard for me, too. We’ve spent so many years together and we’ve both changed so much. Why, I remember when you were a young, cute little town without a single roundabout to be seen! Now look at you! All grown up with seven of those little buggers dotting your developing urban sprawl. I love the city you’ve become and I love the woman I’ve become while living in you.

Both of us will continue to change after I’m gone. You’ll get bigger and bigger and I will, hopefully, get smaller and smaller. New people will come into both of our lives and new memories will be made. I won’t be skipping around downtown any longer judging men by their cars and you won’t have my giggles echoing. The people I love will still visit you though. Be good to them. I’m leaving my loved ones in your care and I want you to give them the amazing life you’ve given me.

You know that you’re more than a city, Valpo. You’re a home. You bring people together and create community so naturally. And for so long now, you’ve been my home. I worry that I’ll never love a place as much as I love you. I worry that I’ll never feel like I belong anywhere else. Leaving you in scary. You’re so safe and familiar. But I know that my time with you has ended and now another small town is going to be my home.

There will be tears when I drive away. There will be a lot of tears. Part of my heart and soul will latch onto you and linger here the rest of my life. I know that I can always come back, but we both know that it won’t be the same.

Thank you for all of the people you brought into my life. Thank you for the job, the co-workers, the parks, the worship, the beaches, the movies, the nights out, the First Thursdays, the shopping, the laughter, the plays, Listen to Your Mother, the schooling, the bad times, the good times and the horrible little apartment I’ve been calling my own for the last three years. I will miss it all.

Thank you, Valpo, for being my home. You’ll always be my hometown and I will always miss you.

Until we meet again,

Katy

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I’ll miss missing you, NWI.

Well, it’s time.

I’m moving.

Trust me, no one is more excited than me, but in the same breath I am terrified. I’m leaving everything I’ve known for my entire life and driving away from the only state I’ve ever called home. Moving twelve hours from my friends and family isn’t going to be easy. Jumping into life as a fiancee (or, right, I’m engaged now!) and a step-mother isn’t going to be easy either. Basically, I’m in for a whole lot of difficult.

So, why do it? Simple. I love Scott. I adore Tatiana. I’m ready to start my life with my new family and that means I have to say goodbye to my life here. And, yes, there are bits of Indiana I’m going to miss. I’ll miss my family and my friends. I’ll miss the beach. I’ll miss knowing the back way to everywhere in three counties. I’ll miss knowing the sounds my apartment makes. I’ll miss being able to walk into my parents’ home whenever I want. I’ll miss garage sale days and the drive-in and the farmer’s market. I’ll miss being a train ride away from the best city in the world. I’ll miss a million other things that I’m not going to list here because it’ll make me sad and I’ll want to cry.

But, if I’m being totally honest with myself… the things I won’t miss outweigh the things I will. I won’t miss the pollution. I won’t miss the traffic. I won’t miss living in an apartment. I won’t miss worrying about who I might see when I’m out and about. I won’t miss being alone. I won’t miss Facetiming with Scott every night. I won’t miss how expensive things are up here. And, more than anything, I won’t miss my past.

You see, my past is everywhere in NWI. Driving through town is an assault on my memories. Each building and park triggers another memory and while some of them are good, there are bad ones as well. I remember the places I went with my ex-husband and I remember things I did with former friends. Living in your home town your entire life makes it hard to distance yourself from the bad.

So as I am preparing to leave, I’m also preparing to let go of Katy of the past. She went through a lot of shit in her 31 years in Northwest Indiana. She started and failed so many times. She had her heart broken several times. She married. She divorced. She commuted to the city and walked to her office in Valpo. She moved from apartment to apartment and even lived in that damn trailer for awhile. She always called Salt Creek home and she made some amazing friends. I love the girl I was in NWI and I loved growing into a young adult. Now? Now I feel grown up. Now I’m ready to be a woman and a wife and a step-mother.

I’ll miss you, NWI, but I’m ready to say goodbye.

the old lady in college.

If you are closer in age to your professors than your peers than this might be the post for you.

I haven’t finished college yet. I have a job which pays me well and is on target with where I’d be if I had gone to college. I am not worried about my job security. There is no financial gain from me completing college at this point. So, why am I here? Why are most of the older students here?

Because, for once, it’s about us.

Yes, there are bonuses to getting a degree. I can move further in my career. If the worst happens and I lose my job I’ll have a degree to fall back on. Caps and gowns are super sexy. But that isn’t why most of the older students I’ve met are in college again. It’s because we’ve lived for someone else for so long and now it’s time to do something for ourselves.

Some of us put off college to support people we love with their educational goals. Some of us had to work crappy jobs to bring a paycheck home and feed the family. Some of us stayed home and raised a family. The reasons why we stayed home don’t matter. The point is that we all chose to pursue a life for someone else and now is our turn to change that.

And, to be honest, it’s fucking hard. I’m not saying college is easy for anyone, but it’s especially hard for older adults. College is a social world all on its own. In order to perform well you need to interact with your peers. This is increasingly hard when you do not understand their culture. Sure I’m only 5, 10, okay 13 years than the little baby freshman, but 13 years in terms of culture might as well be 50. I’ve learned that I don’t understand the clothing they wear, the music they listen to and I sure as hell do not understand their language. We also have different attitudes about life and school. For a lot of students this is their full time job. Maybe they have a part time job and, yes, there are some with full time jobs, but college is their priority. My job is mine. It has to be.

So how do you connect with people you could have babysat for in high school? It’s hard. If you’re lucky you’ll find a few who don’t see age, but more often than not people look at you and wonder why you’re there. Then you strike up a conversation and it makes you feel old as hell. So, in order to succeed socially in college, adult students have to try so very, very hard.

Then we have jobs. Most of us work either full or part time and our jobs aren’t always easy. Some of us have careers with strict schedules. I have a boss who allows me to run out for a meeting or an event and I am DAMN lucky. Not everyone has that option. So we take night classes. And, let me tell you, night classes are hard. You have to try and focus on something the professor is explaining even when you’ve been working all damn day. And since you’re old, odds are you’re exhausted by 7 o’clock and just wanna go to bed.

So on top of the jobs and the social life there is one more major hurdle in being an adult student. Your life. Your life doesn’t just consist of hanging out with friends. No, it is doctor’s appointments (because you’re old and falling apart) and community event meetings (because you’re old enough to give a shit now) and family (because aren’t they a time suck) and friends who really need you (because I promise crises in your 30s trump your 20s) and taking care of your home (because mom isn’t doing your laundry any longer.)

And before any of your whippersnappers starts harping about how much you have on your plate, please remember that I worked full time and was married when I was 22, so please blow it out your rear. That was nothing compared to having a career and a home and a family and boyfriend and friends. Nothing.

There is a lot stacked against the older students. And, yet, what I’ve found is that we are the ones who try harder. We work harder. We want more. And it’s because this is the first thing we’ve done for ourselves in a long time. This means something to us. We are reclaiming a part of ourselves we thought we lost years ago. I know that when I finally graduate it’ll be because I earned it. I pushed myself more than most and I learned it.

I might need a walker to get across the stage, but I’ll have earned it.

suddenly I’m happy. that’s new.

When someone describes me as a bitch or mean or rude I don’t blink an eye. When they call me judgmental I nod along and can point out all the ways I was judgmental in the last ten minutes. It’s well known that I’m a pretty cranky and irritable person. Or, at least, it use to be known. Now, it turns out, I’m a pretty happy person. And that’s… new.

See, when I was in an unhappy marriage I was naturally unhappy. Everyone sucked and everything was stupid and every person in the world pissed me off in some way or another. If I didn’t hate you then you were one of the chosen few. And, let’s be honest, I didn’t even like most of my friends all of the time.

Then I got a divorce. Funny how something like that can change your life. Bit by bit I stopped being angry. I slowly learned to trust in happiness and let myself enjoy life. It took almost two years, but I discovered that happiness wasn’t an elusive unicorn. It was real and attainable and made life pretty damn amazing.

Things change when you start being happy. Suddenly the Facebook posts and tweets you loved before now irritate you to no end. I’m not saying that I don’t post negative posts. Old habits die hard and there are lots of things in my daily life that stress me out. HOWEVER, I know that I’m not as bad as I use to be. And now when I see a friend or acquaintance making a series of negative posts I unfollow them. I don’t want to see negativity anymore. I don’t want to be surrounded by it.

Been there. Done that. Took home the Gold. Over it.

As cheesy as it is to attribute my new found happiness to a man (yes, still a feminist) I can’t deny that my happiness comes from Scott. Being in a happy and healthy relationship has changed my outlook on life. He’s taught me so much about letting things go and forgiving. Today my wedding song came on the radio and I didn’t rush to turn it off. Okay, so I didn’t break out into song and perform some Goo Goo Dolls for my coworkers, but I did listen to it. And you know what? That’s a good song. I don’t hate it any longer.

Being happy is pretty fucking awesome. I don’t think I’ve honestly been happy since my grandfather passed away. Yes, mother, I did hold onto that for years and years. You were right. But everyone already knew that. The last year of my life has silenced all my old demons. It’s put all most of my self doubts to rest. Scott had a lot to do with it, but I know that my friends played a huge part too. The people in your life will make your life or break it if you let them. Why let people who suck the life out of you stick around? It’s not an easy lesson to learn, but an important one.

So, here I am. 31 years old with an amazing boyfriend, superb friends and a killer rack. My life is pretty damn awesome. Time to look the other way when I see negative people. Time to ignore the bitterness I see around me. Time to live a happy life for the first time in a long time.

Besides, how could you not be happy when you have people like this in your life?10592641_10150440863474949_4939955874411794674_n

So… you’re moving?

I was born in Northwest Indiana. I’ve lived here nearly my entire life. There was a year I spent in Southern Indiana, but let’s be honest… I’m a Region Rat. I exist in the unloved space of Not Quite Chicago, but Not Really Indiana. It’s all I’ve ever known and despite the obvious flaws, I love it here. I love the purple sunsets brought on my pollution. I love the beach and the not quite clean lake. I love the endless fields of corn and the quaint shops and the same old places I’ve gone to my entire life. This is my home and I was happy to live here for the rest of my life.

But, something happened. And his name is Scott. I fell madly in love with a sarcastic, silly, incredibly intelligent, talented and loving man who happens to live 12 hours away in Arkansas. For the last year we’ve been stuck in a long distance relationship, but now we’ve decided to see each other more than once every few months and give this an honest chance.

Which means I’m leaving Northwest Indiana.

Yes, I’m scared. Terrified actually. I will literally only know Scott and his family when I move. I’ve had friends from NWI that I’ve known since elementary school. I’ve had the same job in the same office for four years now. I finally live close to downtown Valpo. I know where everything is and I never get lost and that’s very comforting to me. But? If I’m really honest with myself?

I cannot wait to leave.

You see, Northwest Indiana is my home, but it’s also my past. It’s every bad choice I’ve made and every friend I’ve parted ways from. I worry about seeing people I’d rather avoid when I’m out and about. I’m reminded of my past whenever I go anywhere and it gets old. Now I’m going to be someplace where I have nothing but new memories to make. And better still, I get to make all of those memories with a man I love.

I could go on and on about leaving my past behind, but I don’t wanna. It’s enough to say I’m moving and won’t be holding my breath when I go out any longer. I have a new life to live and the months leading up to my move are going to take forever. I will, however, make one last comment to prove I’m not that big of a person after all.

You all said it was a phase. Well, guess what? It wasn’t.