I loved my first little apartment here, in my new city. I really did. It was small and charming, inside a big, old-fashioned house. It had a fireplace and lots of windows and was perfectly-sized for one person. I had a little office, and the kitchen had apples on the wallpaper and there were a lot of closets, and I really did love my apartment. But I did not realize, until I left, how uncomfortable I was there, and it’s kind of shocking to me. I spent so much time in my apartment–that is what happens, when you work from home. I was there for hours upon hours every day, and I thought I was settled and relaxed and felt perfectly at home and happy to be there.
Then I moved to this new apartment. The difference between thinking you are settled, and relaxed, and perfectly at home, and actually feeling that way, every moment–it will blow your hair back and make you wonder what the hell you were thinking, back when you are stupid and blind. There is a difference, it turns out, between being on the first floor, right on the street, and being three stories up; between all your windows having to be open because it is so hot out and being imminently crawl-into-able by roving bands of meth addicts, and floor-to-ceiling windows that only overlook the mountains. There is a difference between having a crazy landlord roaming the grounds and standing out on your front lawn doing weird things with a garden hose and prone to knocking on your door and having long, pointless conversations about nothing from which it difficult to extract yourself, to a landlord who is happy to never have a conversation except when absolutely necessary and only for as long as it takes to impart essential information.
There is such a difference between a neighborhood full of crazy people
who stop, when you’re sitting out on your stoop to get out of the hot
house, to slur drunkenly at you and try to come into your yard and look
into your house and make you wish you could bar all the windows and
shove chairs under all the doorknobs and make you nervous even when the
door is locked when you climb into the shower so you lock the bathroom
door behind you too, and a commercial/residential area full of normal,
not-drunk or high or crazy people shopping and buying coffee and
smiling because they recognize you from around the neighborhood and
maybe saying hey, how’s it going. There is such a difference.
I feel safe, here, and private. I feel self-contained and inviolable. I
feel like this was exactly the right move to have made, every time I
come up the stairs and open the door to my bright, airy apartment and
close it behind me and realize that all this space and quietness and
peacefulness belongs to me. Maybe it is the San Francisco in me
talking, but I don’t care–I will tell you that this place feels good.
It has good energy, I swear to you. It is not just the relief talking,
or the central air talking. This place feels right.
When I was trying to make up my mind about taking the apartment, when I
was waffling about the increased rent, and the cost of moving, and how
long we were really going to be living in this little town anyway and
whether it was just plain stupid to pack up and move only six months
after I had just packed up and moved. I said to E, I don’t know. I
don’t know if I’m going to do it. I want to. I do. But, I mean, it
doesn’t make the most financial sense. He stopped for a second and
looked at me. Then he said, no, it doesn’t. But it makes the most sense
for your happiness.
I paused a long moment, and I might have welled up a little bit, and I
nodded because I wasn’t going to be able to speak without embarrassing
myself. And I went and signed the lease the next morning. You might
have noticed that I am so very glad that I did.