I try to "get settled" into my apartment after almost three years of living in it, and the next thing I know everything I own is in a pile on top of my bed.
At the start of January, I bought shelves and painstakingly (miserably) figured out how to hang them (then wrote about it). I bought some new blankets and redistributed my trinkets from my dresser to the shelves. Then, I spent a blissful week crawling under my covers each night feeling like the room was finally "more my own."
Just about three weeks later, I'm returning to this room. After being completely displaced from my entire apartment. Meanwhile, the apartment and the room involuntarily became a massive construction zone.
You can thank a pipe bursting two flights up. "BUY RENTERS INSURANCE!" I yell-texted to a friend who recently moved to the city. If you learn nothing else, buy renters insurance.
Throughout all the stages, I felt so many things; from utter overwhelm when they said "Miss, we're going to have to open up the ceiling and walls. It'll take a week. Pack a bag and remove all your things." Huh!? The landlord said they'd be here to drill a few holes and air things out. A week!?
Dragging on later, and later the stress, anxiety, uncertainty, immense amounts of anger and "why did this happen to me"s built up as I dragged my suitcase around Brooklyn, from hotel to hotel to a dear friend's place, while my roommates remained safe and sound in their own beds; rooms untouched by the damage.
At the same time, I'm grappling with the realization that multiple people have revealed, unrelatedly, that they've "been wondering if I'll leave New York." I just thought to myself, "is that because it's SO obvious New York is crushing me?" Is it only me who doesn't notice this depletion, or own up to it? So for all of the years I've lived here, other people have wondered how long it would last. And so have I. Yet there's still no clear answer. When does one decide whether its time to endure, or call it quits?
Three years ago when I moved here, I wanted to settle down after several other years of constant moving. I wanted to build a community and build a career. That's been tricky and not quite accomplished, to say the least.
Either way, I'm a known believer that songs come to mind at seemingly odd times. But usually, in hindsight... it's probably not so odd. They fly into my head to make meaning of a situation when I least expect it, but most need it. I don't always realize their significance until years later; how a song I loved at a certain time of life really portrayed that moment so well.
This time it hit me on the subway, feeling ultra drained en route to another hotel room. I was in the midst of one of my secret pleasures (blasting a song on my headphones, letting my body sway to the rhythm, and knowing that my very specific pace to the beat of the music while riding the train or walking the street might make someone wonder what was playing in my ears, where I was going,...or at least notice that I'm on a mission).
As I was passing by the Bryant Park Ice Rink, I thought I'd stop to watch a few rounds of skaters swoosh by. Tears rose out of my eyes. This song! Of course!
I had just gotten the urge to listen to Gypsy, at this moment when I'm reluctantly, but familiarly, on the move. After being apathetic toward Fleetwood Mac my entire life, and not thinking much of this song specifically, I haven't been able to stop playing it! I have now heard it at least 50 times in the past week, on repeat, analyzing every line.
"So I'm back to the velvet underground
Back to the floor that I love
To a room with some lace and paper flowers
Back to the gypsy that I was
To the gypsy that I was
Her face says freedom
With a little fear
I have no fear
I have only love"
It's not just being on the move, but the feelings that come along with not yet having built yourself up to be so comfortable, so that you CAN easily be on the move. It's a song of longing for that free-spirit sense of adventure, that you can just pick up and go. Back before you had responsibilities, commitments, reputation, success, or the inklings of it. It hit me how much I identified as someone who was good at picking up and going for so long.
Traveling was so important to me, and I didn't attach myself to my materials. I could fit everything I owned into two suitcases, and I never bought furniture. Being open to possibility required being open to moving all of my things at a moment's notice when another travel impulse hit.
The spirit that it encompasses -- security in myself. Myself as home. The search for where I belong, within myself, and outside of myself. Pursuing security through many different homes all over the world. Not settling for one place just out of convenience.
I got back to my apartment this weekend. To remove the dust, remove the residue, remove the memory of inconvenience, displacement, chaos. Move right back in like nothing ever happened.
Except that I then sold my dresser, gave away my bedside table, and am sleeping next to a giant pile of my stuff, in an almost empty room. No furniture to organize the remainder of items. I've essentially moved in, moved out, and am moving back in again. To my same room.
So something definitely happened.
And it's ignited me.
I'm feeling the bug. The winds of change. The urge to travel. The inclination to move. Whatever you want to call it. Being involuntarily displaced may not be such a bad thing if it sweeps you up into your next adventure.
Cause New York don't slow you down for nothin.'