One last summer of big baggy shirts: Episode 22


I tried not to talk to anyone, especially my mother, about my decision to move out. It wasn’t something I wanted to discuss. I figured my father already knew about it, and that was all I really cared about. I figured when it was time for me to go, I would just make the announcement and be gone. That meant that I had to start getting things ready.

That summer was a summer of hard work and intense focus. I tried hard to stay under the radar: I did just enough housework so I wouldn’t get in trouble, and then retreated to the back bedroom and worked quietly on my business for the rest of the day. I took conference calls, I pulled in new clients. I sent out resume after resume after resume and did project after project after project. Checks came in the mail, and once every week or two I asked my father to take me to the bank. I made a Word document called “Money Records” where I kept track of everything I made, everything I spent and everything I banked, in different colors of ink.

I tried not to rock the boat or call attention to myself with my clothes. I wore loose T-shirts and baggy jeans and kept my hair bundled into a clip. I figured I could put my life on hold for a few months and it would be a good investment overall. At Minas Morgul Baptist Church, I wore dark clothes and faded into corners, or hid in the bathroom during breaks between services. During the long, guilt-trippy sermons, I scribbled on sermon note paper, but I was not taking notes. I planned, I made budgets. I tried to figure out exactly how much I would need for food, utilities, rent, gas, insurance and other things each month. I decided that I would budget $5000 to get me started with all of my expenses, and I would leave $5000 in the bank as a buffer. When I had $10,000, I planned to move out.

I decided that I was not going to date anyone, or think about dating anyone, again, as long as I lived at home. I was getting lonely, so that would give me some extra incentive to move out! On another sheet of sermon note paper, I drafted an online dating profile. I decided that once I was settled into my new place, I would put up a profile on Christian Café just to see what would happen.

I also planned my furniture. This was the most fun part. When my brain was tired from working on my business and making endless lists and budgets, I closed my eyes and imagined what my living room, kitchen and bedroom would look like. I figured I could shop at Salvation Army and Goodwill and find some cheap things that would go with the color schemes I had planned. I had never decorated a whole apartment of my own and this was going to be fun.

The centerpiece of my living room was going to be a beautiful Tiffany lamp. Halfway through the summer, I decided I had enough money to buy one, so I ordered it off Amazon and it arrived in a huge box. Stained glass has always made me feel gorgeous inside. I lit up this lamp like a big glowing bonfire and I visualized my living room and my whole apartment around it, with this glowing peacock-colored lamp at the heart. Once I got the lamp, I knew for sure I would be getting out of there.

Something very important happened to me over the summer. I was feeling down one day, after hearing a long guilt-trippy sermon, and I wondered if I was doing the right thing or if God would strike me down dead for trying to escape. I stood in the back bedroom feeling all anxious. Then I suddenly thought: “God, if You’re real, You must be outside of all this. You must be different from what I was taught growing up. God, are You there?” A weird thing happened. It was like I could feel a presence all of a sudden, full of light and full of peace. It was kind of like there was a light shining down into my soul from the top right corner of the room, if that makes any sense. I felt like I was praying to the Unknown God that St. Paul’s pagan people put up the altars to. Ever since then. I have always known that He is there.

Sometime in mid-August, my father drove by an old car junkyard on the side of the road and saw a 1999 Saturn that seemed to be in good condition. He took me out to look at it, I liked it, and I bought it for $2000. I paid cash in an envelope, and I got the title and keys. I had a real car.

I called Geico and got set up with car insurance, because I had heard a Geico ad on the radio that said “Fifteen minutes saves you fifteen percent.” Then I drove straight to Goodwill and bought every plate, mug and piece of silverware that I could see, as well as a second-hand coffee pot, which I loaded into the trunk. I had dishes now! Keeping my remaining budgeted $3000 in mind, I then went to Dollar General and stocked up on cheap toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, soap, shampoo and detergent. For the past couple of months, I had been making about $1500 a month. I didn’t know if I would have enough money for toilet paper next month.

Nothing could stop me now, I was on a roll! I had seen a sign for some apartments near Goodwill, so I drove to the (somewhat shabby) complex and walked into the office. I said, “I would like to rent an apartment, please, how do I go about this?” They gave me a bunch of papers to fill out and told me that I would have to go home and get some check stubs so I could prove I had a business. I drove back home, grabbed them and made it back to the office before they closed for the afternoon. I paid the deposit, I paid some extra money that I guess I had to pay because I was an unknown quantity, I paid the renter’s insurance and I got everything squared away that day. They gave me a big folder of information and told me that I could come get my key in two weeks because that was when the apartment would be ready. The rent was going to be $688 per month, and I figured I could just about handle that.

I went home and told my mother that I had an apartment and I was moving out in two weeks. She looked stunned. I took her over to see the sample apartment on the property and she did not say anything, just stared at me with a frozen face and said “But… But….”

Now I had two weeks to find some furniture. I wanted a red couch, and lo and behold, several days later I saw a red couch sitting by the side of the road. The people were so happy to get rid of it, they delivered it for me! I also got a table and chairs on sale at K-mart, a futon bed, and a comforter and some pillows. Everything else I needed, I found second-hand. I was still under budget, with about $6000 total in the bank at this point.

I called Duke Electric and set up my electricity, and I called Comcast and set up my Internet. My last birthday at home, I was 24 years old. My mother had not really been talking to me, but she gave me a miniature crockpot. My dad helped me more some of my larger pieces of furniture over, but by and large, I moved myself in with no assistance. The first thing I did was plug in my Tiffany lamp. It sat on the floor, and in its glow, I set about putting everything in my cupboards and getting everything all set up.

My lease started on September 18, 2012. I had my own place. I got down on my knees on the carpet and thanked the Real God.


To be continued.


8 thoughts on “One last summer of big baggy shirts: Episode 22

    • They are aren’t they?? I almost have too many of them now. 2 big ones, 2 little ones, 2 bird-shaped ones, a butterfly-shaped one and 2 sports ones with the Ravens and the Orioles. 😛 I’m gonna be a crazy old lamp lady.

      • That’s it, you’ve inspired me 🙂 I always feel like those lamps are an unnecessary expense, but if you can do it, so can I 😉

        I’m so impressed how well & how quickly you developed a business, budgeted & moved out with no training! I know other adults who were basically trained to be dependent & had to emancipate themselves, & you made it out in record time! You’re an amazing woman & I keep hoping we’ll meet someday 😀

  1. “Thanked the real God.”

    Yes! That sentence says volumes about how real & loving & amazing God is whether or not Christians realize it. But you do now! Amen, hallelujah & congrats!!!

    • Whoever I was praying to and agonizing over for all those years, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t God. which is kind of a scary thought now that I think about it. :/

      I have been very lucky with the business, or blessed, I suppose. Isn’t there a verse somewhere that says God will provide food and clothing for His children and we should not have to worry about it? The first few months I was always on edge because I was afraid something awful would happen and i would have to go back. IT DID NOT. When I needed a project, I would say “God, I really need you to send me a project,” and sure enough, the next day or so, there one would be. I was always able to pay for everything on time, and I had money left over sometimes. … It’s a really weird experience, to have this super kind God taking care of you, like you were a bird or something.

      • Wow, that’s so true. Something similar happened to me the other day. I really wanted /kind of needed to buy these two particular skin care products, but I thought I shouldn’t spend the money on myself, yada yada. Anyway I eventually went to the shop to find the exact two products I wanted both on sale at 30 % off.

        A couple of days after that I was tired of my cheap diet of eggs and milk for protein, and really wanted to buy some chicken and bacon (yum!). Once again I felt bad, but I went to the shop anyway…both meats (and my favourite cut to boot) were on sale at 50 % off.

        The Real God is good to us. And I think he likes meat 🙂

      • Yes! I have more stories of God’s amazingness than I can remember 😉

        I was a member of a Bible translation org for (oddly enough) exactly five years. I left a couple months before my husband & I married, & we were pregnant six weeks after the wedding (yowza!). Our son is 15 months old now & I’m finally taking steps to actually work “full time” as an artist. I’m definitely reminding myself all the time of all that our Heavenly Parent has provided for me over the years, otherwise I’d be killing myself with all sorts of “I’m not worthy/good enough” rubbish 😀

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