We moved last month. Two blocks and a world away. We loved our old apartment — though now in retrospect I shiver at the idea of spending another minute there — but it was chosen for a different time, a time when the number one criteria we had for an apartment was that we be able to walk to work. That’s it! We had some secondary criteria, too — a tree you could see from bed, a window in the bathroom, a tub for Matt’s post-workout soaks, a door to the bedroom — but the location was the big one. The things we gave up to meet these criteria were that the apartment was very small and up many flights of stairs. In the two and half years we lived there, we mostly didn’t notice these quirks. Well, I always noticed the stairs. But the size was just right for what we needed it for: watching films together, sleeping, packing in friends for cozy couch dinners.
We started to notice the quirks, really notice them, a handful of months ago. One person working in the bedroom, the other working in the living room. The door was a better visual barrier than a sound barrier, and for simultaneous calls we found ourselves scrunching into the poles of the apartment, desperate to put some distance between the echos of each others voices. For yoga, which Matt did daily and I did a few times a week with him, we had to move half the furniture in the living room/kitchen. When he taught twice-weekly classes on Zoom, he moved every piece of furniture in the room. We were still only going up and down the stairs once each day for the most part — a daily walk that usually included a grocery store run or other errands — but we started to notice we resisted more. Or I did. I should stop using the we here. Matt was happy to go up and down the stairs. I found myself resistant to go out a second time, no matter how lovely the weather. The stairs weren’t worth it.
And then, we started to think, maybe we could move. It had become clear that we would be working from home through next spring, maybe longer. The apartment had been good to us and we’d made it work, but the idea of another six months doing the exact same dance — back and forth from the sofa to the bed to the fold up medal chair by the makeshift desk to the stairs and back to the stairs — filled me with despair. There we were murmurings of rent breaks, fees waived, deals to be had. Maybe we could make a meaningful upgrade without paying meaningfully more? We decided to see what was out there. A week later we signed a lease.
Okay that is a simplification. First we wondered: should we leave Manhattan and go to Brooklyn to be closer to our friends? Should we leave New York altogether? But we both expect things to go back to normal at some point in 2021, and we need to be in New York when that happens. Plus we like New York! We feel safe here. And we like our neighborhood, we feel settled here. We didn’t need an all-new life. We just needed a slightly bigger apartment where we could both comfortably work from home. And a few fewer stairs.
So we mostly looked nearby. Nothing was screamingly cheap, but most places we saw were offering something: a month free, a waived broker fee, a promise that the asking rent was a few hundred lower than what the apartment would normally go for. And they all had something wrong with them: too many stairs, too dark, too loud, bad energy. Matt knew the apartment we ended up getting was the one for us as soon as he walked in, maybe as soon as he saw the listing. I was less sure — the kitchen was small, the living room still didn’t have room for a table, the bathroom didn’t have a window or a tub. But the windows sure were big, and there sure were a lot of them, and there sure were trees outside of each one. The bedroom was a lot bigger, and there was even an extra room for yoga or working or whatever. No more moving furniture. And it did feel good. The energy was right. We compiled the application — letters from employers, statements from every financial account each of us has, years of tax returns — and a week later it was ours.
Mid-August we put everything we owned in boxes and hired four very nice men to carry the boxes down the five flights of stairs, put them in truck, drive them two blocks down the road, carry them up one (!) flight of stairs, and unpack them into our new home.
I am so glad we did this. I am so happy to be looking at something new, to have a slightly different walk to the grocery store, to have a tiny bit more space. I’ve been leaving the house multiple times a day just because I can now without dread. There’s a bodega down the block that I never went to when we lived two blocks away — the CVS was closer — but now I go there daily for a bottle of sparkling water or a banana or pack of crisps.
A new place means new things to think about and talk about: Where should we hang that picture? What kind of curtains should we get? A small opening up of a world that had gotten tinier and tinier in the past months.
I am writing this from our new office slash yoga room slash coat closet. I think Matt’s on a call in the next room, but I can’t be sure — I can’t hear a thing.
Love from, Log xx
Drawing by me lol
(Bittersweet news: Matt has retired from being my personal illustrator. He was so good at it, and I’ll miss his beautiful art. Matt and his drawings are the reason I was able to write this thing semi-regularly for a year — each week he would ask, “What’s your newsletter about next week so we can start thinking about the art” And I would think, “Oh shit I need to get on that.” And that’s how this particular sausage got made.
But he was spending an awful lot of time and energy on a project that was mine while ramping up many of his own projects — including his communications consulting business, hire him for your cause-driven PR and content needs — and so we decided that my own charming drawings could be a good thing, moving forward. If you should still like to find him in your inbox, he teaches yoga classes online and sends a weekly email with new class links and a bit of zen. He also sends out a weekly newsletter about strategic communications. Both are very good. Thanks, Matt, for almost always meeting the brief of making me look very good. I love you xx.)