Monday, March 23, 2009

Moving on...and up...or out

In about an hour, I'll be heading to the local college to meet with a program director about obtaining my Hospitality and Tourism Management degree. In about two months, I plan on taking my first class to be counted as a core class credit. In about a year, I plan on having that degree in my hand. In the meantime, I want to be working at one of two brand new hotels that are scheduled to open by mid-summer. I'm afraid to admit this: I'm excited.

I've been excited about things before. Like moving to Florida in 1996. Or discovering how much I liked Columbia, South Carolina, enough to consider moving there. Or even the possibility of taking a dream job at the Chesapeake Beach Resort in Maryland after being away for 11 years. Every time I get excited about something, it fails. I fail. Something fails. Usually it's my own confidence.

And here's why: I've never had to take care of myself completely. Back in 1999, I moved into an apartment with a friend of mine in Gainesville, Florida. Seven months later, I moved back in with my parents to save up the money I would need to move back to Maryland, into a quaint little 2 bedroom apartment in downtown Annapolis. A few months after that, I met a guy. We all know how that ended. And I've never left my parents' home since then.

I've had offers from girlfriends who needed a roommate, but I always felt that I would impede on their life as a single woman. My number one rule has always been that no man would ever be allowed to stay the night, as my guest or as hers. I didn't want my child to see that. But I also didn't want to be the girl that wouldn't allow her roommate to have a romantic social life.

I've had offers to move to other states when other girlfriends were in a position to help me. I never took anyone up on those offers, either. Usually because the state of Florida won't allow me to, but also because I was just plain terrified. What if I finally moved out of my parents' house but couldn't move out of their house? I would be right back where I started, with another host to suck from. Yes, I would feel like a parasite.

So, post-court trial, here I am. In my parents' house, still. The debt is no longer mounting and is gradually being paid down. However, I am no more employable than I was, let's say, three years ago. And this is why I feel I have to do this. This meeting means more to me than just getting back into school. It means more to me than just having something in the world that is all mine, and mine alone (some people have their pilates class, some people have social time in college!). It means making myself useful, making myself needed, making myself...well, myself.

Over the years, and over the past few hours, I have asked myself numerous times if I am actually trying hard enough. The answer? Probably not. Do other women have the same struggles, raising one or more children without the support of their parents? Do other women manage to work full-time and continue their education without the support of their extended family? The answer is yes. However, some women don't have the choice to stay in a safe, comfortable neighborhood until they can afford to move to a different safe, comfortable neighborhood. And I do. I refuse to gather up my measly monthly wages and rent a place with bars on the windows and condoms on the sidewalk. Because I don't have to. Not yet, at least.

But my welcome is wearing thin, on my family, on my daughter, on myself. It's been a great relief to know that I would only have to worry about paying for daycare, food, and legal bills, instead of all three + rent and utilities. Because not only would I be living in an apartment with bars on the windows and condoms on the sidewalk, so would my daughter. And that's just not good enough for her.

Wish me luck.


Chris said...

It seems that you have this planned out. Best of luck to ya, Dena. I am sure you will succeed.

FrankandMary said...

I give you so much credit for deciding you didn't try hard enough in the past, and now-trying harder. I get VERY tired of listening to certain people explain away why each thing HAPPENED TO THEM as if they have no control and are just a little tiny victim of life. That is actually a much more sad way to live then deciding you didn't try hard enough, and moving forward. I wish you lots of luck. ~Mary