For 13 months I lived out of my backpack or out of a suitcase or out of the back of my car. I never slept in one place longer than a night – two nights. Except for 5 or so weeks on an air mattress while I tried to figure my life out or two weeks in Huaraz or three weeks in Patan. I moved, ate out, people watched, followed my whims.
So, when it came time to get a place to live, it seemed strange – this settling down thing, being in one place. Sure – 13 months isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things., but it was long enough to give a taste of what life could be. And long enough to free myself of burdens and stuff.
But, I was in NYC, working full time and needing a place to live. And, let me tell you, finding a place to live in NYC is no small feat. Turns out you need a whole lotta paper work just to get approved for an apartment – paperwork like your taxes and proof of employment and banks statements and a whole lot more. Basically, a whole lotta stuff I didn’t have. Because, you know – I hadn’t done my taxes yet. And I spent all my savings. And I hadn’t lived anywhere for a year. This one realtor I was working with kept asking me questions – and all I could say was ‘But I know I can pay the rent’ – which apparently was not a good enough answer.
I won’t bore you with the details of the apartment search (but if you are a NY’er or know any NY’ers – you’ve lived/heard the same story in other variations) but the spoiler is – I found a place to live. And it’s nice. Not exactly what I had envisioned and more than I had wanted to spend – but as I learned – finding the ideal place in NYC is elusive. And the good news is that they were willing to look past my lack of taxes, bank accounts and whatever else I was missing.
So there I was – with a place to live. One. place. to. live. I could unpack my backpack and cook my own dinners. Sleep in my own bed and walk around barefoot (oh, wait, I already did that in far too many places). I could have book shelves and make myself coffee in the morning. I had a fridge and a couch and a stove and wardrobe to hang my big-girl-fancy-pants-work clothes and a place for all my shoes (that aren’t my chacos and trekking shoes). I had a table and a coffee maker and a blender. All this new stuff.
And I frequently found myself sitting there, being uncomfortable with it all. Unsure of what to do. Forgetting what I use to cook for myself. Not remembering what I use to do with myself. How I use to spend my time. Trying to remember what it meant to have a home, to have stuff, to be attached to one place. And once in awhile, I would feel this anxiety welling up in me, as I added more and more stuff to my home, adding to the list of what was attached to me.
I have learned, over those 13 months, that I don’t want stuff. I don’t want those attachments. There was a simplicity of having two t-shirts and a warm sleeping bag to crawl into every night. Of being able to stay if I wanted. or moving on if I wanted.
But here I am – working a job I care about, living in a place that is exciting and vibrant and alive. And I am trying to reconcile my strong desire to pack up the backpack and leave it all behind with learning….. relearning what I use to cook for dinner and what routines I use to have. And all the while, trying to not slip into the old patterns. The world and life that use to be.
And so, I enjoy wearing big-girl shoes (haven’t worn the chacos in months) and fancy-pant shirts (those two t-shirts have yet to be worn (but i cannot bring myself to toss them!). I barely have furniture for my place and don’t really see myself spending the money to change that any time soon (that list will just stay up on the fridge) and my fridge is pretty empty – but I am re-acquainting myself with my cookbooks (which I have more of than I will ever cook with!) – and learning to live this dichotomy between heart (take to the road!) and mind (get this experience working this great job!) – practical and whimsical.
and finding myself a home.
for the time being…..