The Element of Surprise

2009 July 20
by Grace Boyle

Last Thursday I was in a rush and running late for work.

I had lived in my beautiful house by Chatauqua (the Flatiron mountains in Boulder) for almost year. I was comfortable. It was my home.

So when I saw a note outside my bedroom, the contents startled me. Staring in disbelief I scanned through the document…“due to unforeseen circumstances,” “city zoning officials,” and “your lease will expire on August 31st…” was all I saw. I had one month to move out, find a new place and move in.

Tears began streaming down my face. I was confused and started thinking of the worst. Everyone else I knew who was looking for a new place had been doing so for a few months and I even had good friends who asked me to room with them, but I loved my house and renting situation so I had declined.

I’m taken back to my first week in Boulder when I ventured out alone and was scouring Craigslist everyday, every hour. I remember it is like playing a gambling game and wondering where my life would take me. But now, I knew I had come so far. I love Boulder. Snap out of it, Grace!

Fast forward a few days. I’ve since realized (past the initial shock) that this is JUST how life works. I had let myself get too comfortable with one piece of my life and forgot to expect the unexpected, even in my everyday life.

The element of surprise-it’s like nitroglycerin

I can’t help but feel nomadic–like I’m that 20-something who isn’t “settled,” and is moving around and isn’t sure where to re-route her bills yet because boxes are piled high at friends’ houses and in my car. Well that’s me and for right now, that’s just fine. Freedom rides alongside me; sleek and rugged. I’m shedding the first year of Boulder skin and beginning something new.

A home is our nest and to me, it’s my safe haven so I’m going to recreate it only this time I know where to live. I have resources. I’m determined to find some fantastic new roommates and a new spot in Boulder that I’ve also wanted to live in. I’m calling it my new chapter in Boulder. Try for renewal, moving on from a relationship lost and onto a new place. I couldn’t have foreseen the last few months happening when I first moved here. Who can? I still know there are upsides, there always are.

I’m trusting and am pumped for the element of surprise. Like Andy Nulman, author of Pow! Right Between the Eyes (aka the surprise guru) says, the element of surprise is like nitroglycerin. “A little bit used well, it sparks euphoric shock and gets the heart pumping. A little too much handled recklessly, it can blow up in your face.”

…Bring it.

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  • Caitin

    Good post Grace!
    I think having your home messed with is one of the most difficult things you can go through… it’s your haven and your retreat so that’s gotta be tough. Congrats on making the conscious decision to “roll with the punches” :)
    You never know how amazing your next place will be or why. Good luck on the search.

  • Stuartfoster

    If it's any consolation…I have yet to figure out where I am going to live either. Seeing as though my girlfriend is moving to Lansing, Michigan for Med-school and Carla hasn't figured out if she wants to be in Boston or NYC.

    Fuuuuuun times. Especially since it will be my 3rd move this year.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Stuart Consolation, yes! Sharing our woes together is better than being at it alone. I forgot how frustrating moving is, especially when you DON'T want to! However, I think it's all part of the adventure and I am going to take the good out of the bad. Hence this post. Anyway, thanks for sharing and best of luck in your moving plight!

  • Jason

    Great attitude. I wish you the best in your relocation. Sending good thoughts..

  • Carlos Miceli

    Grace, be ready to hear a lot from next year relating to this. Once I move, I know that the elements of surprise will be there!
    But in the end, I think it's part of life, the surprise doesn't necessarily have to bring something bad, it will just take you down a different road. Being ready and embracing the unexpected will give you (and hopefully me as well!) some life lessons that you can't learn anywhere else.

  • Rebecca

    I always found it frustrating to find a place to live too. Ryan just recently went through that. My best advice is to just ask other people where good places are to live. I'm sure you'll find something great/better. And it will be a good surprise :)

  • the_wordgirl

    Similar thing happened to me this past winter. Found out that my landlord was filing for bankruptcy and the condo I had been renting was going into foreclosure. I had a feeling something was coming and had been restless where I was, but it was the worst possible timing (I was hoping to move to NYC this summer). Long story short, I ended up moving a half a block away. I had to accept a year lease, which meant I'd either have to break it if I moved or stay here until it was up.

    Since then, I've waffled on moving to NYC. I probably will, one day, but probably not for a while. I don't think I'm ready, honestly…and so, this was probably a blessing. There were a lot of murky emotions motivating it that I hadn't really examined. Being here has helped me examine it.

    I like my apartment, but I'm not in love with it. It makes me feel like I'm an adult, and it's uncomfortable here for me–maybe because it's too comfortable. But I'm convinced there was something I needed to get here. Maybe, I needed it to understand what I really do need. So, nope, I won't be moving to NYC when my lease is up next March. I will, however, probably move to Highlands in Denver or possibly Nederland/Boulder.

  • Grace Boyle

    Thanks Jason. The positive outlook and attitude is always what keeps me going! I'm sure you will hear my house hunting stories soon :)

  • Grace Boyle

    @Carlos I definitely feel you on that and it was just like when I moved to Boulder and had no idea. It's interesting feeling “settled” some place, but then feel like you have to be uprooted like I am now. I like how you say surprise isn't bad, just takes you down a different road. I'm all about embracing! Thanks for sharing

  • Grace Boyle

    @Rebecca Now that I've been here a year, I have resources and know people who can help out. That makes a huge difference. Before I was blindly looking at Google Maps not sure where the best places to live, but I feel better this time around. Thanks for the support, I'll keep ya posted 😉

  • Grace Boyle

    @The Wordgirl Thanks for sharing this story. It was totally unexpected to hear everyone's story and support in writing this post, but it has been gratifying. You're so right that these things work out for a reason and attitude is important. I'm turning it into something new and exciting while I'm trying to lessen the stress and frustration (because I love where I am). Best of luck in your next move–if you're in Boulder, it would be great to meet up sometime!

  • ryanstephens

    What a great approach and mindset to this situation Grace. I just wish I could embrace my new city the way you've embraced Colorado. There's nothing inherently wrong with Charlotte, it's just that it's not Texas.

  • sameve

    Grace: I totally admire how you've dealt with this situation from the beginning. I remember seeing your tweet after you first found out, something about when life hands you lemons, and that's such a great attitude to have. When life throws you a curve ball, you can either see it as a bad thing or as an opportunity. Even though it's usually easier to grumble and pout about it, taking it as a challenge and making the most of what you've been dealt will pay off in the end. Best of luck in the apartment search, and change should know that it's got nothing on you!

  • Grace Boyle

    @Ryan I guess the difference was that I came to Colorado because I REALLY wanted to and loved it. Embracing it wasn't hard, I already had. The housing piece I suppose is different because it's the one constant where I can go home and be comfortable, unwind after a long day, rest, relax, etc. Embracing can be hard, especially when you've made up your mind like you have with Texas :)

  • Grace Boyle

    @Sam Change ain't got nothin' on me 😉 I'll keep chanting that while I'm searching for my new place and thanks for all your support!

  • Matthew

    We talk so much about our ability (or lack there of) to BE the change we want to see – but what is equally, if not more important, is our ability to embrace change when we are faced with unforeseen circumstances. You obviously are ready for anything and have the attitude to prove it. I'm living in that element of surprise right now, as we speak. And if I can do it, so can you, so can anyone. I wish you all the luck in the world!

  • Elisa Doucette

    First of all, you have such a GREAT outlook and attitude in dealing with this curve ball it's refreshing. I'm sure, like most every other adventure you have had in the past few years, you will find a way to land on your feet.

    That being said, you speak about how just as you get comfortable things change. And while it's an obvious statement, it becomes even more obvious when we think about the world around us. The world is spinning on its axis (heck, on its orbit) every day. The sun rises and sets, the tides come in and out, things are forever changing around us. With all that happening it becomes foolish to think that our own lives aren't going to change, too. Congrats on living how to change with the world around you!

  • Rosa

    Awesome attitude Grace! I totally agree with what you say about surprise, it is the spice of life. Good luck!

  • Grace Boyle

    @Matt Thank you! I was a little upset with myself when all this happened because it was like my feet were firmly planted and I didn't want to move (literally). I got away for the weekend and also had to talk myself down from my situation. It's all about embracing is what I have found and to me, the scariest part was how fast this happened. The element of surprise is just part of life :)

  • Grace Boyle

    @Elisa I LOVE the way that you put it–the world is literally spinning and changing as we speak, so how can our lives not be part of that ebb and flow? Beautiful. Thanks for your support and comments, as always.

    @Rosa Spice of life is right! :)

  • rachelconn

    Grace – It's inspiring that you can have a positive outlook through this crappy situation. When I'm dealing with something stressful in my life, to keep things in perspective, I try to remember the quote: “Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% what we make of it.”

    You're a living example :)

  • Grace Boyle

    @Rachel I wasn't positive when this first happened :) Padmapper is AWESOME, thanks for sending it along. I think I just found an apartment with a good friend that all of a sudden needs housing too. Funny how it works out, isn't it? That's why I knew I could write this post and follow up saying, hey I did it!

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  • Siva

    Best of luck :)

  • Siva

    Best of luck :)

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