I don’t like change. Even good change. Change gives me—you guessed it!—anxiety. A blog post on Talkspace.com made a correlation between change-based fears and a “negative worldview.” As someone who gestures vaguely and loudly proclaims, “This is a nightmare!” fifteen to twenty-five times a day, this makes sense to me. Of course change gives me anxiety! Even the night before a day trip (WHAT POSSESSES ME TO SAY YES TO THESE THINGS? WHY NOT JUST TAR-AND-FEATHER ME?????), I’ll be on the toilet googling breath work on my phone just because the thought of upheaving my daily routine to go, I don’t know, look at sculptures in a park forty-five minutes north of the city, gives me a mild-to-moderate panic attack. To do these things (by choice!!!!) instead of sitting in my room in the dark while my phone casts a ghoulish glow across my face like Morticia Addams seems ludicrous to me, but I’m human and fuck up from time to time by still occasionally saying yes to these contemporary forms of torture.
Besides the climate apocalypse and McDonald’s permanently ridding its menu of my favorite item, moving is at the top of my list of change-based fears. It’s why I lived in the apartment (that I moved out of just two days ago) for five years, even though I’d outgrown it, like, three years ago. (Also, moving is awful, no matter where you’re headed.) But change is a signet of living in New York City. One day you’re slamming ‘em back at your favorite dive, and the next thing you know, that bar has become a Chase bank or a Sweetgreen. Neighborhoods become unrecognizable after only a few years, just ask any New Yorker of any generation. And while these changes occur at a macro level, they also take shape in the form of folks moving seven times in two years, like some friends of mine who go from sublet to sublet, never moving with much besides a large suitcase and a beloved plant.
I have had seven roommates since moving into my first Brooklyn apartment. I was the first to arrive and, when I locked that door two days ago, the last to leave. The apartment hauntingly the same way I had found it five years ago—empty. To which I say: LMAO BYE I’M THIRTY AND READY TO GRADUATE FROM A TWIN-SIZED BED. But also, oh, no. What have I done?????? I’m not ready for this!!!!
Are you ready to want to send me a box of dead lemurs? I moved only three blocks away.
I know, I know. I’m such a fuck. Let it be known that I did not intend for this to happen. When I started looking at apartments, it just so happened that this was the one I fell in love with and just knew. Note: the “because my happy ass is not lugging twenty large boxes of books any further” after “just knew” is silent. The light was bright, but not blinding. My new bedroom is on the west side of the building; no longer will I have to endure waking up to the sun rising DIRECTLY OVER MY FOREHEAD. FUCK THAT CRUSTY OLD STAR. I can fit a bigger bed and a new writing desk. I have a nicer kitchen, which includes a fucking dishwasher. I’ve never had one of those. (Can’t wait to wikiHow “how to use a dishwasher” and probs break it!) And another amenity I’ve never had before: central air. Listen, I can’t do heat. And before you call me high maintenance, I will pull the fibromyalgia card so fucking fast. I like my shit to be a MEAT LOCKER. So if you come over, BRING A BLANKET.
Besides moving into a bigger, better space, I have no roommates. No more fridge Tetris. No more harboring silent resentment over being the one who always has to buy trash bags. No more sharing one bathroom with two other people when you’re the one with the volatile bowels. And yet. AND YET.
I’m still scared and filled with unwarranted guilt for moving into a nicer space with even nicer things, like a good-quality mattress and an expensive couch that I’ve already named Hollywood because she’s bubblegum pink and is coming all the way from Los Angeles. Guilty, even though I’ve worked both ass cheeks off to get here after spending ten years on the precipice of broke, and never knowing not if, but when my card would get declined. Yet here I am, starting a brand-new chapter working as a full-time writer—my dream after working shitty job after shitty job—filled with fear of the unknown and irrational guilt over the fact that I’m spending…my own money…on nice things…for once?
My fear and guilt will not miraculously wash away by the end of this newsletter. They are still very much coursing through my veins as I type this. They are just more things that I have to unpack—SEE WHAT I DID THERE? (I’m so sorry)—with my therapist, in addition to the dozens of boxes I have scattered everywhere. This move has left me with a sense of fatigue so bottomless I cannot see straight. I’ve been walking heavy shit back and forth since Saturday and I don’t even know what day it is anymore. I am one spontaneous outburst of tears away from rimming the glass of a margarita with Epsom salts.
I really thought this move was going to be a breeze compared to the others because I either sold or donated all of my furniture with the intention of starting fresh. I was basically just moving my clothes, books, plants, and art. The only piece of furniture currently in my possession is a mattress—a very comfortable queen-sized mattress that I’ve been dreaming of for ten years now. I have a billion boxes of books and clothes currently scattered throughout my new apartment. All of the furniture I’ve ordered is either on its way or getting prepared to ship within the next two days or eight weeks—there’s no in between. But these are all things that are to be expected with moving—especially when you’re starting from scratch.
What I wasn’t expecting was the onslaught of emotions that have now formed a dogpile on me.
Maybe it’s starting fresh that’s hitting me. And not just in terms of tangible items. Not having roommates anymore marks a new era and represents a paradigm shift in the nuts and bolts of my life. Even though the fruits of my many years of labor are starting to ripen, I’m also reminded of the fact that I’m no longer the twenty-two-year-old who could afford to make poor life choices by virtue of being in the age range where bad decision-making is deemed a rite of passage, and benefitting from certain guardrails of privilege protecting me from true rock bottom (I could always call and ask my parents for money if I were in a bind).
I’m reminded that, by getting older and accruing more responsibility, like moving all the utilities to my name and being in charge of budgeting for the things needed to maintain a sustainable household, the stakes for fucking up are higher.
It means that I need to rely on myself more, which is scary, considering whenever I enter a room, I’m like, WHO IS THE ADULT IN CHARGE HERE—even when it’s supposed to be me. It also means confronting the other things that I have, up until now, swept under the rug for thirty years—like my parents getting older. I’m going to have to be able to figure out what this charge on my bill is for myself instead of immediately calling my dad and sighing for twelve minutes straight while he tries to translate said sigh into whatever it is I’m calling to ask. I’m going to have to determine which brands I’m loyal to instead of just adopting my mother’s.
And that scares the shit out of me.
But, like the crash I’m going to experience after downing my third iced coffee in order to finish this newsletter, these things are all inevitable. In some ways, there is solace in this inevitably. Recently, my best friend was telling me how much they love my writing, but that, sometimes, there’s no fight in it. And I agreed. Why fight what you can’t control? I prefer to control how I react. My writing is nothing if not a way for me to metabolize all the joy, sadness, and everything in between that flows through me like a current.
The waves will continue to come—in varying sizes and strength—and my only job is to let them wash over me and hope they don’t knock me down. And they might. If they do, I just hope that I’m not using my new pink electric kettle.