A Daunting & Determined Dresser

Finally, the time has arrived for my new apartment move-in.

While I’ve enjoyed my time with Mr. Possibility, there is something about having your own room to be…well, you. I rose early this morning, ate breakfast with Mr. Possibility and headed across the river and uptown to my Upper West Side dwelling. When I arrived at my new place, grabbed the keys that are now officially mine, and peered into the empty space that would soon be filled with my things, I felt the same sigh of happiness I’ve felt with every budding residential beginning. Somehow, it feels like a second chance or third or tenth, whatever it may be.

I waited for Ikea to deliver my things, chatting it up with my new roommate, and the sublet who will be leaving soon. He is tall and intelligent, a fellow blogger, and a dude who moved to New York partly for his girlfriend. He will start Teach for America next month and they will be moving in together, and it was nice to hang out with a heterosexual dude discussing our own relationships, lives, and backgrounds. It was even nicer of him to help me piece together my furniture – or at least my dresser – when two non-English speaking, quite rude delivery men came and went without any exchange of words, just nods. Maybe a grunt or two.

With time to kill and wanting to shape my bedroom into some sort of functioning space before I sleepover there for the first time in a handful of days, I decided putting together my dresser would be the smartest move. I have more clothes than I do books, so the desk and bookshelf could wait longer than my piles of t-shirts, bras, and sweaters. The bargain-priced $150 six-drawer dresser in black/brown came in two extremely heavy boxes that my new friend carried into the other vacant bedroom.

We opened the boxes, listening to Queen, and drinking beer, and when the first cardboard hit the wooden floor, my jaw went with it. There had to be at the very least, hundreds of pieces – if you count the screws, plastic-things (yes, that’s the proper name), nails, and rollies (again, proper name). I was instantly a tad overwhelmed but once the package is opened, you’re better to put it together or you run the risk of losing essential parts. As we discovered once the dresser was assembled, Ikea doesn’t provide extra-anything in case you lose or mess up. The Swedish, apparently, don’t make excuses.

But R reassured me we could do it and he was determined to put his “manly-skills” to use, while listening to Maroon 5, John Mayer, and a random assortment of music that we both happened to like. The further we got along, the more the dresser started to actually look like a dresser…

…and the more impressed with myself I became.

I have hung curtains by myself, along with photos and mirrors. I’ve built a tiny bedstand that came in a very light box from Target. I own a toolbox I was given for high school graduation and I’m pretty comfortable doing simple projects. But I have never attempted something as complex as a dresser. Yet to my great surprise and satisfaction, I had created (with help from R) a functioning, standing-tall and strong, ready for my belongings, dresser.

After situating it in my room strategically, thanking and friend-requesting R, and grabbing sushi because I was near-starvation, I caught the train back to Brooklyn to finish packing up my “vacation” suitcase at Mr. Possibility’s. Proud of my accomplishment and sending pictures of my “pet” dresser to my friends, to brag about my craftsmanship, I thought about how many times, even in a week, we experience the daunting feeling of an unassembled dresser. And yet, with determination, find a way to fit the pieces together.

Earlier this week, I received some disappointing news about a freelancing gig I badly wanted at a magazine. The byline would have been great for my career and ego, and no matter what anyone tells you, rejection always sucks. It may become easier to stomach the older we get, but if we’re human and heartfelt, our hopes will always rise. And with that email turning me away, I felt the same dread and daunting feeling come over me as I did when I first saw my unassembled dresser in its box. But I pushed through, I emailed the pitch to other publications and I didn’t give up or give in to that ice cream sundae I thought I deserved, and by Friday, I attracted another bite. Another opportunity. Or with Mr. Possibility who sometimes can be as moody as me, especially when he’s stressed. Though we’ve never had a true argument, there have been times when I’d prefer the company of someone else over him. But give it a day or two and I’ll find myself missing him.

Life is often in a million pieces and it’s up to us to find a way to make them all connect. Because daunting feelings only last so long, and it really is determination and visualizing the finished product or scenario that gets us through it all. If we can always have the will to make it to the end, that sense of pride never gets old. Even if it is just over a dresser you made with your own two hands.

Just the Way It Is

A week from Friday, my current apartment’s lease is up. Two weeks later, my new apartment is ready for a proper move-in. In that span, I also will attend two weddings, close two months of magazines, organize two volunteer projects for children’s literacy, write around 21 blog posts, submit two revised freelancing pitches for national publications, collect two paychecks and a tax return, start to pair up a buddy system I created, and well, hopefully have drinks and adventures with those I love the most. If I’m lucky, I’ll get in at least four runs a week, too.

Oh my.

Everything I own, which is way more than I thought it was, is in piles of boxes, bags, and suitcases scattered across my studio, and all that remains unpacked is my planned attire for tomorrow, a bag of popcorn I’m counting as dinner tonight, a few dishes, and my bedding. For the next weeks, I’ll be living out of a suitcase while figuring out how to schedule a mattress delivery and deciding if I’ll buy a new dresser from Ikea or scope out Craigslist. Considering if took me nearly a month to commit to a comforter and sheets, I should probably start researching yesterday.

All of these changes and stress, both emotionally and physically, have not only caused an unexpected breakout at quite the unfortunate time, but I’ve found myself irritable and cranky, and overall, just exhausted. With a million worries circulating my mind, I haven’t been sleeping well and I wake up continuously to scribble a new task on my ever-growing to-do list by the light of my cell phone. For a few days now, I’ve been complaining to my friends, family, Mr. P, and really anyone who will listen to my so-called troubles. I don’t have enough this, too much of that, too little fun, too much work, too little help, too much going on to manage.

And in the middle of singing my woe-is-me song to a friend who’s been in the city far longer than I have , she interrupted and asked, “Linds, I love you – really. But do you really think you’re the first person to move apartments at an inconvenient time? This won’t be your last move and really, it may be your easiest.”

Touché , E, Touché .

While my blog is about me and can come off as self-absorbed, I promise I’m not. This is a space to spew and discuss, and while I’ve never considered myself the crème de la crème of New York women – in my weeks of transitions and in thinking of the ones to come, I’ve forgotten that this is just how the city is.  Just how being a 20-something is. It is, just how it is.

People unpack and then vacate their apartments – hence why they are apartments to start with. We rent until the lease ceases and then we find another place to call home (unless we stumble across rent-controlled, then we stay put forevermore). Landlords expect cash-flow to change, they raise prices and lower them, give deals to those who are good tenants, and if we’re tenacious enough, we may find a no-fee broker to help us get through the dirty work of the search. Up until we get married or decide we don’t need a ring to have a mortgage, we will continue to be in the cycle of the move: experiencing the freshness of a new space with a clean slate, and remembering fondly or in remorse of the address we used to claim.

And as fate would have it, my friend M from college will be taking over my apartment on May 1. Just as I did, she’s moving sans job but with bountiful determination. We’re in similar industries and an entry-level salary fits the price tag of this place, plus it comes with a glowing recommendation from me. Or maybe it’s appeal is that it allows her kitten to can come along on her new journey, too. While packing up my things, I continue to think of her and remember how I felt in those days before I made my big move. I felt a lot like how I do now – uncertain and a little frightened, but more ready than fearful. This change of ten blocks isn’t as huge of a leap as hundreds of miles like moving from North Carolina was, yet any scenery development can be worrisome.

And while I’m not her and I can’t speak for her feelings, I know what those shoes feel like before New York breaks them in. As every dreamer and overachiever does, she’ll find her footing and she’ll land on solid ground, while crashing-and-burning a few times along the way. If the ideal position doesn’t open up, she’ll hostess or be a temp until her career path leads her where she is moving to the city to follow. It won’t be easy and she will probably doubt herself a dozen or so times, but in the end, it will all make sense and it will all be worth it.

To remind her to take it day-by-day and to not let a tired spirit get in her way, I’ve hidden some notes here-and-there and I’m passing down a gift that was given to me that’s kept me going when my going got tough. And though I may not always listen to my own advice or the cautions of others, getting caught up thinking I’m the only Manhattan nomad –  I will pass along something else, written carefully and with love on an index card for M to see:

“It is just the way New York is. But really, you wouldn’t have it any other way.”