I moved to Crown Heights last week and this is the view from my new bedroom. There was a window in the room I’d been living in for the past two years but it looked directly into the kitchen window of the apartment across from ours. If my arms were only a little longer I could’ve reached out and brushed aside their curtains and knocked the plants off their windowsill. As it stood I was merely privy to their fights and parties and the conversations they had as they cooked and ate, the intimacy only tempered by the fact that I don’t actually speak any Spanish at all. My old room was much smaller and darker and still there was that weird era, I think it was spring 2011, when a whole group of us would always end up in there at like 4 in the morning sitting around on my floor. I spent a lot of time in that dark little room.
Guys? I’m really, really happy here. We had a half day (summer fridays!) so I came home early to let the internet guy in and he set up our internet and there’s a bottle of cheap chardonnay cooling in the fridge and I’ve got the Joan Armatrading record playing and the sun is hitting the little prism my roommate hung up in the window and it’s casting tiny rainbows around the living room where we’ve hung up our weird thrift store art and in a minute I’m going to get caught up on Mad Men and it’s hard to imagine how things could be better. I’ve been feeling like this on and off since 2012 began and it’s fucking weird. I told Emma a few months ago how I was worried I had a brain tumor that was pressing down on my brain’s pleasure center, because that’s totally a thing, I saw it in a John Travolta movie or an episode of Law and Order or something. And it’s still hard for me to be hopeful because there’s nothing quite like having to recognize your own optimism as such when things inevitably get bad. It’s hard not to feel like hope will be eventually be met with equal levels of disappointment.
But the math doesn’t work like that, and it’s not a tumor (“not a tumor”) and I’m learning that it’s ok to feel hopeful even if things do fall apart and get shitty. It’s like that Bjork song where she’s like “I’m no fucking Buddhist but STILL, you guys COME ON.” It’s not like things are perfect. There are still nights when I leave bars feeling angry and nights when I leave parties feeling weird and there are times when I need to curl up in in the corner of my friends’ bed drunk and crying. I still go to The Dark Place sometimes and I still have to deal with shitty work emails in my phone and occasionally my body clenches into a little fist of anxiety so tight I feel like it will never unclench. But then it does!
And all of this is good because it makes me less likely to sit in the corner silently judging everyone and it’s not like I’ve reached some zenith of emotional maturity or anything but it’s so much easier to not make everything about ME all the time*. And when you stop feeling so wrapped up in your own fears and sorrows and disappointments you get to learn a lot about other people. Anyway! This midday wine/new apartment induced Oprah moment is officially over.
*there are plenty of times when you should make everything about you, none of this is intended to be prescriptive.
There are all the obviously shitty things about looking for a new apartment: This costs how much? And it’s how far from the subway? That really counts as a bedroom? Are these the nice, neighborly kind of drug dealers or are they the other kind? Why am I even moving in the first place when my current apartment is just fine?
And then there’s that other thing, that thing where you have to imagine yourself six, nine months, a year into the future. You can’t just picture yourself slipping in and out of this new front door all summer, casual and sandal-footed and not giving a shit. You have to think about January. You have to think about trudging home through the snow when you haven’t done laundry or gone grocery shopping in weeks and you give way too much of a shit about everything and you feel as isolated as you can only really feel in January. Will I be okay alone in this room with just my books and my computer when I don’t want to leave? Lately I’ve been endeavoring not to be the kind of girl who wastes her time imaging winter when it’s only May but it’s a hard habit to avoid when you’re gearing up to make a year-long commitment. Today’s weather wasn’t helping much.
Some of the apartments are still being lived in. These are the bleakest: empty beer bottles on ikea kitchen tables, flattened Anthropologie bags in the corner, a Barnard pendant on the wall. Other people’s garish paint jobs. Other people’s unmade beds.
Still though, I’ve always loved that fresh-paint smell apartments have when you first move into them. I’m old enough now to know that there isn’t much about me a small change of location will fix but I’m also old enough to know it can be so easy to believe otherwise when I’m putting my dresses in a new closet and hanging my old pictures up on new walls.