As we come to the end of our time here in this town, I have been reflecting back on all the friends we’ve made and the memories shared. The friends that we have made out here will stay with us forever. Moving away from friends and family was hard (at least it was for me) so having close friends really helps.
It was very stormy last night so I was inspired to write this as I watched the torrential rain and constant (like seriously constant) lightning and thunder. I guess I was feel nostalgic….
I remember my first day here like it was yesterday. It had been an early morning for us, we had stayed the night in some motel in Iowa a few hours away and had to get up and drive here to make it in time for the last day of orientation. Leave it to us to put it off till the last minute.
I remember driving through the small towns leading us to our home for the next 3 years and thinking “Where the fuck are we?” As we drove past my future school, I chuckled at the name; Kishwaukee is a funny word to say if you’ve never heard anyone say it before.
When we arrived on campus, we found some parking and got out of the truck, U-Haul still in tow. I remember thinking how freakin hot it was. I had been in humidity before, but never like what I was feeling then. It was all around us and very thick.
There was a quick tour, that culminated at the memorial for the students that had been murdered at a school shooting a few years before. That’s when I heard them for the first time. The tornado sirens. I started panicking and thank god I wasn’t alone. The tour guide kind of chuckled and told us that the sirens are tested once a month on a Tuesday. Since then, I’ve never gotten scared by them and quite honestly I rarely hear them tested. I think I’ve tuned them out. M says he hears them sometimes. I do remember hearing them one time at work. It wasn’t a Tuesday. It was actually a real emergency but my manager and I looked outside with a customer we had in store and didn’t see anything so we just went back to work thinking it was a fluke. Turns out there had been a funnel cloud seen like a mile up the road.
So after the quick tour, M and I were separated and I was put into the group with the parents. We toured the dorms (which we wouldn’t be staying in) and toured some other buildings. It was sweltering and I couldn’t imagine how people loved like this. I mean, I was sweating so bad but no one else was. I felt so alone for the first few hours on campus. I soon found how how shitty cell reception at NIU was and came to the realization that M needed a new phone (his had been on the fritz for some time).
The “parents” tour ended much sooner than the student so I kind of was lost for a while. I walked around for a while, trying to figure out where I was supposed to meet M because at this point his phone was dead. I asked a bunch of people where the students went after they were done but no one ever got me a straight answer. It was all very frustrating because a) it was hot as fuck and b) I didn’t know anyone or anything about where I was. Eventually I ended up back outside because I thought maybe he had gone back to the truck or something. He hadn’t. So I stood outside because I, again, didn’t know what to do.
Thankfully he came out after not too long (OK like at least an hour) and we headed away from school to find food and shelter. [Side note: when he got back to the truck is when he officially asked me to move there with him. I believe his exact words were “I can’t live here without you.”] We ended up at what is still one of our favorite restaurants for dinner while we looked for apartments. No luck finding a place that night or the next 3. We stayed at the Hotel 6 or Motel 8 or whatever for almost a week before we finally found an apartment in our price range. But the first few nights in the apartment were actually spent in Iowa at M’s family’s farm. It was tons of fun.
When we got back, we were home one night with an air-mattress (that deflated while we slept) so we spent the next day getting a new mattress. We just got rid of that thing (thank god) but I didn’t sleep on that mattress for the first week we owned it. I went home for a week to pack and say my goodbyes. Before I had gone out there, I was pretty sure I was gonna move here anyways but I wasn’t 100%.
That move was almost 3 years ago exactly and I couldn’t be happier. Of course I miss my friends and family back home. Everyday. But I’m living the life I never knew I wanted with the man I wanted the moment I laid eyes on him. And I couldn’t be happier.