I’ve lived in the same apartment for [gasp] nearly nine years. How that possible? What the what?! That’s a long time. I moved into my delightful studio shortly after 9/11. It was the most beautiful studio I had seen. And I knew instantly I had to live there. It screamed pick me! And I screamed it right back! I told the super who showed me in that I had to have it. Then I proceeded to go all Chorus Line on it: “God, I hope I get it, I hope I get it!”
It is a co-op building and I would be renting an apartment owned by the corporation. In 2004, my father suggested I ask the board if the corporation was interested in selling me the apartment. They were like, okay. And I was like, cool. And that’s how it all seemed to go down. At the time I got a good deal, and thankfully, with all the market fluctuation, it’s still lower than the value of the place now. (Owning this apartment helped me, someone plagued with anxiety at the sight of a number, actually understand the whole sub-prime mortgage debacle!) So I am incredibly lucky, not only to be a homeowner but to an in-the-black homeowner.
I refinanced it the following year, and commenced a home improvement adventure, redoing my kitchen. I picked the cabinets, the counter tops, the appliances, the flooring, the and – the pièce de résistance – the backsplash, tiny little glass mosaic tiles. I ate take out, confined to one small section of the apartment. (There’s no place to really store an oven and a refrigerator when they arrive before the contractor is ready to install them.) But then it was done. And the only memory I have of the uncleanable fake wood Formica and the brown linoleum tiled floor are the before pictures I haven’t looked at on Kodak Gallery. It’s beautiful.
Recounting this story of my romance with my apartment is really helpful right now. Because for a while, I have had a case of the “I’ll be happy whens.” I’ve been telling myself I’ll feel better, or I’ll be happier, or I’ll be more productive, when I live in a larger apartment. This is not just blind greed – make it bigger, more luxurious, more doormany! No. See, within the past year, occupants have gone from one to two. It was a transition that’s challenges were substantially diminished by the excitement of living with my man. However, it’s tight.
But it’s also amazing. S has taken to calling the apartment “the incubator.” We both have accomplished so much in our tenures living there. Admittedly, I have had a longer time to accomplish things in the apartment (The whole nine year thing. Seriously?!) The entire life I have built for myself in my adult years commenced in this apartment. The things that come to mind: the book clubs and writing groups I have hosted, the friends I have invited into my home (the extra special ones who have stuck around), the kitchen I designed and remodeled, the mortgage I pay on time every month, the contractor I negotiated and worked with, the two novels I have written, and the six – soon to be seven – seasons of So You Think You Can Dance I have watched. It’s nursed me through change and heartbreak. It’s one of the only things I can think of that’s been as constant in my life – aside from family – for as long, during the same period. (Equinox is a close second. I’ve been in a relationship with that gym since 2002). And since S has lived in the incubator, he has reinvented himself in a new career (and he’s kicking ass!) and is fulfilling a five-year dream of developing a disc golf course on Long Island!
So, it’s not about “I’ll be happy when…” It’s about, “Be happy now…” I love my apartment so much. It sounds so superficial and silly. But it’s my home. And it’s been my home for so long that I can’t even identify all the versions of myself that have existed therein. I am grateful to share my home with my guy and together I think we raise the vibration of the place so that good things come there to grow.
Someday I know we will look back on our delightful studio, from larger, more luxurious, more doormany digs, and remember fondly how things used to be. Knowing myself, I’ll be hella nostalgic.