Yet again, my plans to room with friends have fallen through, for the third time. Unless you’re a New Yorker (or someone from San Francisco perhaps), you’ll find it hard to understand what Apartment Hunting In New York is like. It’s a beast of its own, where good deals are like golden snitches that you need to squint to find, then grab in a heartbeat. I’ve already sent at least fifteen emails to people looking for roommates. It’s like a job interview. I really want to avoid what happened last year, where I found my apartment exactly the night before I had to move out of my friend’s place.
I found my current roommates through Craiglist. Even though they’re complete strangers, they’re awesome people. They’re both young (mid-thirties), one works in media advertising, while the other works in film and is in the process of making his movie. When I saw the apartment, I knew it was the place after seeing the uncut edition of LoTR, MASH, Rashomon, The Simpsons, Gilmore Girls, and Seven Samurai decorating the shelves. Clearly, they were not psychopaths. Whenever I get home, Mitch (the guy) is usually in front of his laptop, and will usually have trivia that’s either medical, or arts & culture in nature if I ask how his day was. I now have an appreciation for Bruce Springsteen, new jazz artist favorites, directors whose names I need to Google again, and an understanding of the differences between working in documentaries versus cinema. Sapana is about to be married, and knows the simplest recipes that will make the apartment smell like pesto, tomato sauce, or banana bread. We have overlapping tastes in Netflix shows such as The Office, Aziz Ansari, and Dexter. Sometimes she watches Say Yes To The Dress, Gilmore Girls (when the internet is down), House of Cards, and Parenthood. Then there’s me, the girl who attempts to cook a two-hour long split pea soup (which turned out really good thanks to the smoked ham hock) in her first month of living on her own, marathons Arrested Development (previously, Frasier, The New Girl, and Orange is the New Black), and laid out a bowl of Twix as a goodwill gesture when she first arrived.
Park Slope has been a gorgeous and safe neighborhood, which is great for a new New Yorker like me. I can also be on practically any subway line in New York, and easily come back home.
While I enjoy living with them, I do want my own place. That way, I wouldn’t have to tiptoe around the rules of others, even if they’re chill, easy going folks. Having guests over is a bit more complicated, because most Americans get antsy even if a guest is there only 4 days. Not all Americans are this way, but that’s the prevalent culture. I’m not moving out just because of that, however. I need to move because I can’t afford it anymore. My health care package from work is eligible starting April. Since I’m paying 60% of it (which is about $200~) I’ll have to take that amount from my rent allocation, because everything else is as minimal as it can be. Minimal, i.e., haven’t bought a new article of clothing since October 2013, walks and takes the subway, cooks at home and occasionally goes out with friends.
So what’s the priority? A good location with cafés, restaurants, book stores, and young people? Proximity to public transport? Price? A washer and dryer in the unit? A dishwasher? Your own bathroom? Yes or no to pets? Even a private bathroom is such a luxury, which I may have to give up soon.
The Mild Panic
The practice is to inform your roommates a month beforehand that you’ll be moving out. But the market in New York only shows you options 2-3 weeks before your move-in date. So at the moment, all I’m sure of is that I won’t be living here by May 1. I don’t know where I’ll be living yet. Which makes me queasy and anxious. But God will come through. If it’s not meant for me to live with my friend and have my own place, just yet, then I’ll just have to stay this semi-nomadic way and enjoy the next place, while not settling in too much (because I’d hate to move bulky furniture). If the God who is sovereign and powerful, with everything only too easy for Him to give, chooses not to let my plans be the ones that come to pass, who am I to know better.
Maybe it’s God’s will for me to live like a stranger, for now. Not settling too much and really making a place my own, but passing through it while enjoying the ride. In the process, not buying much or having much, except for clothes, a futon, a few books, and a few appliances. And a chair. I can be happy with that, actually. The past months have taught me that I don’t need much. This makes it easier to understand Hebrews 11, especially the verses 13-16 parts. Some time ago, I asked God to help me understand what it means to live like a stranger on earth, what it means to have Him as my God, what His Good News means to daily living, and what it means to have joy. Times like these are profound.
Vulnerable, But No Longer Panicking
In all this––not having a home yet, preparing paperwork and security deposits (which is another frustration of its own)––I can see God revealing His goodness, might, and real, personal-ness. He’s teaching me to trust His plan, and to see beyond the apparent–––to see His God-ness in the winds that blow, to hear His voice through roar of the storm. My best moments in life have been the storms that come out of nowhere. In these curveballs, things are beyond my control, time is ticking fast or unpredictably, and situations keep changing. Right now, I’m tempted to research places like it’s the end of the world. But more than looking up places on Craigslist and Naked Apartments, calling all the brokers I can reach, more than running about, I need Jesus. I need to read His Word and spend time with Him, because that’s the most important thing of all. Because it’s not the storm that’s the story anyway, but Him.
This is not to say that I’m going to wait for it to fall into my lap. This is to say that I won’t be searching because I’m restless or panicking, that I won’t worry my hairs white, and that I won’t be a grumpy, pity-partying, emotionally non-fun person to be in the company of at this time. This is to say that I will listen to hear God, and will do this search from a place of peace, clarity of mind, and strength, knowing that at the end of all this, He will be praised.
Ultimately, it’s not about finding the apartment, but knowing God.
Below are more pictures of my current place. Which I will miss! (But not the sounds of the street at night)
This is what I see right when I open the main door downstairs.
The sight that relieves my bladder.
The eating area, living room, and kitchen
The living room
We all felt sad when we heard the PSH news earlier this year.
My neighborhood, during winter.
In the daylight.
On a clear day.
The last thing I’ll see before stepping out. That neighbor often fills the hallway with smells of Italy and roasted meat. I shall miss you too.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.