A Guest Blog by Adrian Drower
As Frank Sinatra once sang, “This is My Kind of Town.” Though I was born in Illinois, Northbrook was my kind of town for a while. Now I agree with Frank Sinatra, Chicago is my kind of town.
I currently live on the north side of Chicago. My family moved from Northbrook to Chicago in September 2013. My parents bought a four flat apartment building that they renovated. At first I lived with them, but once the renovations were done, I moved into my own apartment. I’ve been in my own apartment in Chicago for over a year now.
Yes, I have a disability, but I am learning to survive on my own. Here are some things that help:
- A Cleaning Guide – An idea that I had when I first moved into my place was to create a cleaning guide. It functions as a way to keep me organized. It works as an additional reminder to clean and provides me details on what needs to be done.
- Support Network – Everyone needs a little help sometimes. Like the lines in the Foo Fighters’ song “Learn to Fly” – “…fly along with me, I can’t quite make it alone. Try to make this life my own.” As a support network, I rely on my friends and my family when I need advice. That’s where Facebook or Skype can help; it’s a great way to stay connected. Plus I attend Center for Independent Futures in Evanston for additional support.
- Public Transportation – Transportation can be an issue for people with disabilities, but in my opinion, Chicago is one of the best places when it comes to helping people get around the city. It’s also one of the biggest advantages to living on your own. I use the Metra to attend No Boundaries in Evanston, and that reinforces one of many skills I need for independence. I also made use of the RTA’s Travel Training program. It helps people with disabilities get used to using public transportation. I gave it a shot and it worked out very well. You pick three or so places to go and they help you get to them. I chose Water Tower place, Navy Pier and Millennium Park because they are popular places to go. Now, I know how to get to them. In fact, I now take the L train to work!
- Having A Job – I’ve been working at The Fine Line near the Merchandise Mart for a little over two years. I love going to work and earning money, but that’s not the only reason. I also like my coworkers and boss. They are very welcoming, respectful and they have great personalities. It’s a fun environment that keeps me busy, and that’s a good thing with any job. Yes, the money helps pay the rent and it allows me to be as independent as possible, however, I also enjoy the chance to be working. That gives me a sense of independence and personal responsibility. It even helps define who I am.
I will admit, I’m still learning about living alone. I rely on my parents to pay for certain things, but I am learning more about paying bills and rent.
I live in a good neighborhood and a fun area. I do kind of know my neighbors, but have a strong feeling that my neighbors don’t know I have a disability. It has been said that I don’t look like I have a disability, but I do. If someone is willing to listen, I’m willing to talk about it.
I’ve come a long way in my life. Living independently, using my talent of writing and holding down a job is a lot of work. I may be doing it my way, but I’m doing it in “My Kind Of Town.”