Friday, 9 August 2013

Moving On Up

Last week, I did something I have never done in my entire life: I moved because I wanted to.

I’ve only ever moved because the school year ended, the lease ended, I was moving cities, I was moving countries, and in one case, because there was a flood. Which is to say, no matter how bad the place I’m in is, I only move when I absolutely have to.

When I first moved to New York, I had less than two days to find a place. When a friend suggested the apartment I was renting might be dark – all the windows faced other buildings -- I shrugged, thinking: That’s what lamps are for. Little did I know how two years of never knowing what the weather was like outside would chip away at my soul.

The apartment was above a restaurant, too, but I’d lived above a restaurant in London. Ha. The one in New York was a bar and restaurant, open until 4 am, and most nights I’d go to sleep (if I could sleep) feeling like my bed was in the middle of a party to which I hadn’t been invited. After months of their insisting they’d never had a problem with previous tenants, I finally won a war with the place – called, ironically, Diablo, or Devil – to remove their speakers from the ceiling after I’d repeatedly email them critiques of their playlists, which I could hear above my own music. “You played a little too much Keane tonight,” I’d write. Or: “Wow, I haven’t heard that Killers song in a while.” Every night at about 2 am I’d ask them to turn it down. They said they would, but the volume never seemed to change until I threatened to call in Environmental Protection Services.

And yet I didn’t move. There was always some other deadline, some other reason. It was too much work. I hate looking at property. I wondered if I should move to Brooklyn. Oh, but where in Brooklyn? Oh, it was all too much work. Bladdy blah blah blah. And so I’d just suffer in silence. And let the record reflect that I am a writer who works at home. So it wasn’t like I was never there.

Every time things with the restaurant got bad enough to involve the landlord, I’d say I was interested in moving into another apartment in the building, and they’d promise to let me know when something became available. And every once in a while I’d see people moving on or out, but no one ever called me.

Until two weeks ago, when – binge-free for nearly two months (and I do think this is relevant) – I spied a broker in the building. I called the landlord.

I almost didn’t go see the apartment. I didn’t even want to have to decide. It just all suddenly seemed like too much work again. But I forced myself to go anyway. I loved the place: Bright, with a cool brick wall and a much better layout that mine. I went up again at 11 pm to see what it was like at night. It was so quiet.

I texted my sister to see if she’d think I were crazy to do this. “Do it!” she texted back immediately. I texted my friend Julie. “Do it! Do it! Do it!” she wrote.

And so I did it. In less than a week. It was terrifying and stressful and painful, the last because in packing there is much confronting of dashed hopes and the wreckage of the past. Clothes that no longer fit, projects I didn’t finish, memories of how it felt to move to New York in the first place, when my grandmother was still alive and the magazine world I was going to work in seemed glittering and glamorous.

I woke up a week ago on the first morning in my new apartment and immediately had to text two friends.

“Waking up with sunlight is, like, the best thing ever,” I wrote.

It’s so bright I have to get curtains because I can’t see my computer screen.

I can’t believe I did this, but I’m so glad I did.

Seventy-three days without a binge.