Well, here we are: back in the apartment building I’ve spent so much time in on weekend trips to this city to visit my sister. But Paige is in Europe, and this time, I’m not a visitor. The apartment is empty except for me; quiet except for footsteps upstairs and the sounds of children across the street at Welles Park. I’ll see myself out soon and make my way 12 blocks east, where I’ll let myself into a different apartment—my apartment. It’s my home for the next three months.

My mother and I just said goodbye in the middle of Lincoln Avenue as she hailed a cab through tears and without warning (on a Sunday, you take what you can get). And just like that, she was off to O’Hare and I was alone in Chicago left to…what? To do what I’ve dreamed of doing since I first visited Paige three years ago, I guess. Live, work, experience, maybe even love.

Clutching my soy chai and pulling my sunglasses back on, I walked past familiar the restaurants and storefronts and past strangers who are now a little more kindred, if not simply because we love the same place. And I’m scared, of course. I should be: I’m living in a brand-new city. I know virtually no one.

…But I just learned how to parallel park this morning. And I can get on the Metra—I’m down with public transportation. Getting from points A to B? I can do that. Now all I have to do is enjoy the ride.