Broke Into The Old Apartment.
I didn’t, really.
But sometimes I wish I could.
If I broke into my very first apartment, circa 2003, which was actually just a bedroom I rented for $200 per month from a couple in their apartment, I would see: Shaggy brown carpeting. Closet-sized kitchen. Cat litter. The garbage disposal I clogged when I threw in a glob of spaghetti noodles. The alarm clock they wouldn’t turn off for an hour every morning because they slept straight through it.
Which totally reminds me.
I did break into the old apartment.
The couple accidentally locked me out with the door chain one night, thinking I was home because my car was there, but I’d gotten a ride with a friend — the same friend who, quite dearly, after I called the couple repeatedly, threw rocks at their window, and rang the doorbell 700 times, used her shoulder to actually bust off the entire door frame so I didn’t have to sleep in the hallway.
And then there was the first apartment I shared with Justin, circa later in 2003. If it still existed in space as a capsule of time, I would see: A metal bed frame. A plastic trunk for a coffee table. Tiny galley kitchen. Bathroom barely big enough to turn around. A tree frog on the wall. And, eventually, a used sofa and new kitchen table.
I would see the downstairs neighbor banging on the ceiling with a broom when I’d work out with Gilad on FitTV.
Outside, Rusty and Chops would offer me a beer from the back of their pick-up. And when a neighbor almost burned the whole building down, it was Rusty who broke through a window to save the day — and the four pieces of furniture we had to our name.
Next came the duplex. Sure, it looked a little shady, but the inside was freshly painted. It had new carpets, a big kitchen, and an actual place for laundry. What more could we need?
Screen shot of the duplex from Google Maps. When we lived there, it was brown. We lived on the right. Our cars weren’t that nice.
It was heaven.
I think maybe so, because last night I experienced what can best be described as an extreme case of materialism anxiety. Almost a panic attack, I guess, if you want to get embarrassingly technical, as my experience-seeking hipster self decided to pick a fight with my comfort-seeking material self.
Hipster Self: Yo girl, what are you doing with your ass on the sofa? Shouldn’t you be writing that novel? Volunteering for that charity? Planning for that next passport stamp?
Material Self: Um. Dude? This sofa was $40 on Craigslist and has a cigarette burn hole in the arm. Surely that counts for some level of hipness. And also, I can’t write that novel. I’m busy researching the best way to seal an economical butcher block counter top.
Hipster Self: Please. You know your budget’s gonna fly out the window the second you pick up some quartz samples. And then where will we be? Certainly not the Galapagos, that’s for damn sure.
Material Self: You don’t understand. This is for resale. We have to fix this place up if we want it to sell. And we have to fix it up now if we want to enjoy it. Or do you actually like staring at pink and blue floral wallpaper?
Hipster Self: Well we wouldn’t have to stare at it if we were climbing to Machu Picchu. That’s all I’m sayin’.
And okay. I’m not sure why my Hipster Self talks like a 90’s movie male gangsta, but I just tell it like it happened.
And the more I thought about the conflict, the more I realized how at odds I constantly am with myself — the half of me that wants comfort, security, and a sense of community, versus the half of me that wants to explore, play, and experience the world.
It’s a conundrum, really. We consider ourselves “grown-up” when we buy that first house. We experience that bout of instant gratification when we paint a room and fill it with kitsch and show it off to our friends. We feel accomplished. Like we’ve made it somehow.
First time we bought a brand new sofa set for The Duplex in 2005.
And then, because that’s all we know, we keep seeking more. The next accomplishment. And I think we tend to forget, a bit at a time, the things that used to make us happy for real. Like fun-loving friends. A cheap case of beer. Contentment that came from merely existing.
It’s dangerous to live in constant nostalgia for the “good ol’ days” because then we’re not enjoying now, and not everything was good.
For example, Justin wore hoop earrings.
And I thought they were sexy.
But the thing I think I’m trying to learn is how to strike a balance — between the comfort we seek as adults and the thrill of discomfort we yearn for as the living, breathing, inquiring, curious creatures that we are.
I haven’t quite figured it out yet.
Right now I have browser tabs open for kitchen faucets, asbestos remediation, Greek Island hopping, and how to poach pears.
I’ll let you know when I do.