fresh start

The New Apartment

Back in January, the apartment I was living in with my sister flooded. Or, as I prefer to say, my washer betrayed me.

When our apartment officially went under construction, my sister and I moved out, and over the course of the next few months, my sister got married and moved in with her husband, while I stayed with my parents, watching the world as I knew it materialize before my eyes. Not only would I not be going back to the apartment that I loved (because I couldn’t afford it by myself), but I would now be living alone for the very first time.

The reality of it all hit me in two ways:

  1. I was starting a new chapter and it was exciting.
  2. I had seemingly lost everything and I was sad.

I battled with the two mindsets constantly as I began to look for a new apartment.

When I’d find a prospective place and imagine myself living there, taking on the world and all of its new possibilities, I felt hopeful, excited, and anxious to start this new chapter. But when an opportunity would fall through (over and over and over) or I would go through periods of having no one call or email me back, or when it seemed like everyone else had everything falling into place while I was still at square one, I grew frustrated, tired, bitter and a little heartbroken. 

In total, I would contact over 100 places, and only hear back from and tour seven. It was a lot of sitting around and waiting, a lot of getting my hopes up and then getting them shut down again. I kept hopping from city to city, trying to figure out where I wanted to live, where I felt safe living on my own, and what I could afford, and the three did not often line up with one another. It was an exhausting process, one that often left me discouraged and sad. I was desperate to have this part of my future figured out, so that I could start to figure out the rest.

I knew that finding an apartment wouldn’t solve all my problems. I knew it wouldn’t be the thing that made every other worry melt away. I also knew that there was a pretty good chance that finding an apartment and starting a new chapter would add new worries to my life that I knew nothing about yet. But that didn’t make it easier. I still longed for it. For something new and for the start of that something.

Then, on a Friday afternoon in August, an ad popped up for a place I’d never seen before. I sent a request to tour but figured I wouldn’t hear back. The ad said it had been listed for 25 days. Most apartments I’d liked went off the market in hours, let alone an entire month.

But on Saturday the woman called me, and we set up an appointment for the following day.

“We’ll see,” I said, cynically with a shrug. I was half convinced she’d cancel before I got there, or let me know that 1) she’d already rented it, or 2) she decided to raise the rent by a billion dollars. But she did neither. Instead, when I walked up to the front of the building, the woman greeted me with a smile. And when she opened the door to the apartment, I got that feeling.

The THIS IS IT! feeling.

I walked around the apartment, barely having to look at it, and then I asked where I could apply.

We walked downstairs to the office and I filled out the paperwork, and I drove home feeling optimistic. She said she would let me know within the week.

A few hours later, she called to tell me I got it.

The following week, she gave me the keys.

While the moving in process has been a slow and steady one, I now write this from my couch, in my living room, in my new apartment.

While I still sometimes battle the two mindsets: excited and independent vs. sad and alone, I’ve also had a wave of people encourage me as I start this new chapter. Married friends and family who I often think I’d trade places with in a minute, talk about my new chapter with awe and wonder. Not many of them have ever lived on their own, and so they talk about it with a curiosity they will never quite be able to quench.

I take comfort in this. Because while I tend to criticize myself and my path for being so different from those of my friends, I am finding more and more that it is not a lesser path, but in fact just a different one. So here I am, right at the start, unsure of what adventures lie ahead. I am excited and nervous, and I will honor both feelings. Because this is where I am, this is where I was meant to be, and the only place to go from here is forward.

A Minute Past Midnight

There is a clock hanging on the wall in my bathroom that never tells the right time. I have changed the batteries, I have checked to see if it is hanging straight and flush with the wall, I have changed the nail it hangs on, I have taken it off the wall and blew on it Nintendo 64 style, but no matter what, after a matter of hours or, if I’m really lucky, a day, the clock goes back to having a mind of its own. Choosing hours and minutes seemingly at random, making my incessant glancing at it while I get ready in the morning absolutely pointless.

And so, a few weeks ago, I took the batteries out.

I thought briefly about buying a new clock, but since I wear a watch, and have now grown used to using the series of notifications I get every morning as my gage on whether or not I’m running late, I didn’t immediately feel a need to.

So, I set the hour hand to 12 and the minute hand to 1, and then hung my broken clock back on the wall.

That way, whenever I go in to get ready in the morning, or walk in to go to the bathroom after work, or step out of the shower, or touch up my makeup, or sit on the edge of my bathtub to overthink something weighing on my mind, I can look up at the clock and see it showing me a minute past midnight. No matter what time of day, no matter what kind of day, no matter what I did or didn’t do or how good or bad I might feel, I can look up at the clock and be reminded that I can start over. I can’t redo what’s already been done, I can’t take back what’s already been said, I can’t uncringe the cringe that’s been cringed. But I can take a deep breathe and start over again in that moment. I can accept that whatever happened has happened and I can start to move forward to something new.