June 13th marked my one year anniversary in the city and spent it by laying on my floor mattress, loft recently disassembled. The air in our apartment was stifling; the breeze outside nonexistent. I never reinstalled my air conditioning this spring as it was an unusually cool few months for once. Plus, the thought of trying to haul that thing and cut another custom piece of plywood to ensure it sat in the window correctly was not appealing in the slightest.
By the time you read this, I will be packing my last boxes up, old room swept and welcome mat pulled from the front door. My car will be filled to the brim with odds and ends – mostly clothing and photography equipment at this point. Instead of transporting this random collection of belongings to a new and shiny apartment, it will make its way back to Connecticut for the time being.
Yes, I am moving back home to Connecticut. But only temporarily. As my new roommates and I searched far and wide for the right apartment in June, in true New York real estate fashion, our options got smaller while the prices got higher. Soon, we found ourselves trying to justify prices out of our comfort zones for half the space. We realized the pool of choices was not going to expand, so we did exactly what I had dread would happen from the beginning: we put it off another month.
Looking for a July 1st move-in proved to be frustrating. Deposits were already placed on half of the spaces we went to look at. And the other half, the realtors just didn’t respond to our inquiries. Typical. July into August is even worse for looking at apartments (gotta love the intern season..)
Unfortunately, the majority of places are taken from right under you within hours of you falling in love with the amount of counter space it offers. But, as we sat on the roof of the last apartment, watching the warm glow of the sunset transform our tired, anxious faces, we made a decision all of us seemed to be comfortable with.
We decided to wait.
But not for too long. The past few weeks gave us time to get our paperwork in order, make some last-minute deposits, tighten up that credit, and convince a few weary guarantors they won’t be left high and dry on a rent bill. Our lease begins on the 15th, and keys will be in my hand the 13th to begin moving everything into my new home.
I’d like to think all my worries will cease to exist in this next month, but I know better. I still have heavy furniture that needs to be carried up two flights of stairs, an incredibly anxious mind that cannot seem to find peace, a failed hard drive that is in the process of being repaired for lord-knows-how-long (nothing has been lost and several backups have been purchased for old & new clients moving forward!) and a potentially fried MacBook. Clients are understandably angry, and it’s been one big wake-up call. I rely on the trust and word of mouth of my clients, so losing some of that has been devastating.
“Who is this unlucky?”
The air was filled with a harsh, metallic noise as the front of my car collided with the side of a speeding SUV eager to pass me. Immediately after impact, the driver gets out of his car and starts yelling at me that I will surely pay for all this damage I’ve done to his car. A neighbor out for a walk has to guide me to a driveway to park as I am shaking, my throat tightening, and trying not to puke. I have never been in an accident before, nor was I used to someone yelling in my ear to fix something I had not caused. I was turning left onto a side street when he attempted to speed around me.
We waited 3 hours together for the police to arrive, repeatedly dialing 911 in attempts to get an update on the queue and eventual shift change. Ironically enough, these neighbors made me realize how much I would miss this neighborhood as they stood in a semi-circle around me and would quiet the man down when he attempted to shout at me every so often. No one was hurt, thankfully, and I returned to my apartment in a daze around 1 am.
Not even 48 hours later, I found myself calling 911 once more.
Driving up to my boyfriend’s apartment the next evening felt like the longest ride of my life as I double and triple-checked all of my surroundings, still shaken from the accident. Emotionally drained and undoubtably hangry, I drove around his neighborhood for a half-hour searching for a place to park this partially crumpled hunk of metal.
At one point, I found myself crying out of frustration: why was the universe doing this to me? How much bad karma had I unknowingly racked up? Eventually, a spot opened up right in front of his apartment, provided I move my car at 7:30 the next morning for street cleaning.
As 7:30 came around, I was greeted with an early morning present of glass scattered all over my passenger seat. I was 1 of 6 cars on the block who had their cars broken into that night, blue-green shards sparkled down the road in the morning sun creating a beautiful mess we were left to deal with.
The three that were still in the process of reporting it to the police somehow had nothing stolen, myself included. The car had been rifled through, but my brother’s Ray-Bans were left untouched and my EZ-pass still sitting in the cup holder.
Has this changed my outlook of New York City?
I honestly believe if those two occurrences were any further apart, I may have really lost a bit of my lust for New York City. Instead, I found myself laughing at the bad luck I’ve seemed to pick up as of recent whilst flicking pieces of glass out of my car that morning.
Before this, I had never had any sort of trouble parking my car in various neighborhoods for over a year. If anything, it reaffirmed all the time I’ve spent lugging all my gear in for the night. My boyfriend lives in a decent area, yet I’ve realized chaos can happen anywhere.
Even as I sat with the man’s son during the three hours on the curb the night of the accident, he told me of all the hidden history of the neighborhood I was in the process of moving out of. The strangers who saw the accident came together, and the self-proclaimed “mayor” of the block had no problem shouting back at the man when he became aggressive. Later on I noticed him checking on me every so often from the darkness of his stoop, marked only by the end of a lit cigarette, until the cops arrived.
There was no way I was about to start shaking my fist at this city. Well, not yet at least.
I drove back to Connecticut that morning with the wind ripping through my permanently open window. At one point, I stopped for lunch and parked right in front of a sign that stated, “We are not responsible for any lost or stolen items in your car. Please close all windows and lock your doors upon leaving the vehicle.”
Chuckling to myself, I wondered if I should write a not to leave on the empty window frame, “this car had already been broken into this morning, and any valuables (which were zero) had already been picked through, thank you very much.”
So now it’s time for a massive lifestyle reset.
On top of all the running back & forth from apartments, to police stations to repair shops, my mental health has taken a nose dive and I almost look forward to moving back home and waking up in my childhood room.
I will not miss the sound of someone rustling through our recycling at 3 in the morning right outside my window.
I will not miss the smell of stale urine in the subways as the temperatures rise.
The number of panic attacks that seem to be ravaging my mind and body have increased without much of a trigger. I find I am constantly irritable, and any little side comment sets me off. I feel broken, tired, and so very ready to take a small step back.
Realizing I am only human, yet there is need for improvement, I am looking ahead to making some changes in my daily schedule. Once I secure this next apartment for August 1st, I will report back with what worked, and what didn’t. For anyone who feels as if they’re spiraling in their own life, maybe this list can help. We’ll see how it does for me.
Things I am doing to change:
- Regularly backing up my hard drives after each job as well as weekly for minor edits.
- Creating and maintaining a shoot schedule, income report, and expenses spreadsheet. No more guessing about monthly income or once-a-year overhaul for taxes.
- Buy the proper tools to maintain my equipment and replace old memory cards, missing lens caps, and broken filters.
- Set aside 2-3 days to send out monthly pitches to new clients.
- Have a “power hour” a few times a week to crush out a task I’ve been neglecting.
- Go to the gym 3x a week.
- Stock up on fresh fruits, veggies, and nutritious snacks.
- Drink more tea and less alcohol.
- Begin trying out new naturopathic supplements for anxiety & adrenal fatigue.
- Get up at a set time each day, no more sleeping in!
- Scan and organize all important documents.
How much of this will actually be accomplished?
Truthfully, I have no idea. I’m striving for most to be crossed off, setting reasonable and realistic goals for myself, but it’s a process. Ultimately, it’s about listening to yourself and seeing what your mind, body, and business need to grow. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed by how much I have to do still and trying to stay on top of it all, I remember one of my dad’s favorite sayings:
“How do you eat an entire elephant? One bite at a time.”