Our old apartment.

There’s this notion that when you move, you’re movin’ on up, so to speak.  Dorm room to apartment, apartment to house, house to sprawling mansion with accompanying jet and in-home McDonald’s (oh wait, that’s Richie Rich).  At the very least, there’s this general understanding that you’re getting more of something.  (Oh my God, this post is going to be loaded with First World Problems.  Sorry to offend you, spambots from Nigeria.)

When Lance and I moved out of the city and into the sub-est of suburbs, we acquired substantially more space, several hundred square feet, at least.  A huge walk-in closet, enormous kitchen and balcony, so much space in the bedroom we didn’t know what to do with it.

So when we decided to ditch the suburbs and give the city another shot, we knew in a sort of vague conceptual sense that we’d be sacrificing something for the location: we’d be getting less space for our money, especially given that our requirements severely limited our affordable options (in-unit washer and dryer, dishwasher, central A/C).

“Sure, sure, we can swing that,” we both told ourselves about giving up space.  “It’ll give us the chance to purge stuff we don’t need!” we said.  “It’ll encourage us to lose weight to create the illusion of more room!!!”

…And the new apartment (obviously, our aesthetic hasn’t changed much.)

I was also nervous because, since I work in the city and Lance does not, I was tasked with finding an apartment all on my own.  Lance was putting his trust in me, which, when it comes to your home (and let’s be honest, in general), is a scary proposition and daunting responsibility.  When I toured what would become our new apartment, I felt an immediate connection and told Lance the same.  “Let’s do it,” he said.  And so we put down our security deposit.

The day I picked up the keys, the same apartment I viewed some two months earlier looked SO SMALL.  Holy crap, I thought to myself, how are we going to fit everything in here? Lance is going to hate me for picking out this place and we’re going to get a divorce except we can’t in Pennsyltucky since it’s full of redneck bigots who don’t even recognize our union and we’ll be stuck in a violent tailspin of a marriage forever OH MY GODDDDD

The night before we moved; I couldn’t sleep–I was experiencing a low-grade panic attack as if we’d made some terrible mistake. But there was no turning back.

On the day we had Lance’s brothers over to paint the new place, dozens of rats were skittering around in the daylight just outside the entrance to our building.  Like, rats bigger than my adult cat just strolling down the sidewalk.  My stomach lurched.

Of course, we couldn’t fit everything in our new place (we knew early on in the process that we’d have to get a storage unit, not uncommon for people our age living in the city); we were giving up the walk-in closet, the balcony, the enormous bedroom.

The first few days in the new place, instead of being excited to be back in the city, I felt defeated, a whole variety of emotions:

Our bedroom is so small.

The dog isn’t adjusting well to the city.

Why don’t we own a house?

Why didn’t I notice that there was no garbage disposal before we put down the security deposit?

The Rat King is going to eat through the door.  I have to mentally prepare myself for this.

I had to remind myself that even though we were downsizing, we were downsizing on purpose. We consciously made the decision to live in the city; we’ll probably live in the (or “a”) city for the next 5-10 years, at least.  What they say about “location, location, location” is totally true.  You pay for what you get–all of it, not the space inside your four walls, but everything outside of them, too.

Our first weekend in the new place, when we were able to walk a block and a half to the Starbucks (as opposed to driving ten minutes to the closest location in a strip mall), I started to feel a little better.  When I was able to walk along the river path to work instead of biking to the train station, and then commuting an hour each way every day, I felt a sense of relief.

And a few days in, as things settled down, I felt content. The sense of constant irritation at being forever bored in the suburbs was gone; even if we were just lounging around the new apartment, at least the possibility existed of us just walking out the door and having dozens of different things to do right at our fingertips.

This is what I tweeted next.

3 thoughts on “Downsizing

  1. Hi!

    Your new place is adorable and I love the cat’s view. Ugh, downsizing. We sold so much stuff, gave away a shitload for free, and I still think we have too much and want to sell some of it for taller things instead of wider things (our ceilings are high). We do our laundry down the street (or bring it to my mom’s when we are visiting), we don’t have a dishwasher, and the counterspace that we renovated our house kitchen to have… does not exist. Our couch is small and we both hate it (it used to be in the guest room) and now that we sit on it all the time we realize how uncomfortable it is and that we really need a new one. Sigh. It is so tough and so expensive. I have so much I want to do to the place but I just don’t have the money to really invest in it right now… we have not even gotten curtains… Luckily, most of the furniture we got for James’ apt 4 years ago is still in okay condition and we are using it. I just wish… to be a millionaire for one more closet? (That has been the biggest adjustment.)

    I totally relate to your experience of walking right outside to go get a Starbucks. After a few months, James and I have tried more places in our neighborhood than we ever did at our house because we can just WALK there or get on a subway to go there. Otherwise, we always ended up going to the same spots and having to get in the car and dodge crazy LI traffic.

    Longest comment ever. I’m so glad you are feeling content about your decision. ARE YOU HANGING UP THOSE BWAY POSTERS AGAIN? (I still haven’t hung mine up yet… they are sitting in the corner.)

    1. Estelle,

      I’m hoping our experiences in branching out into the neighborhood and trying new things will be similar to what you and James have experienced! That’s the whole point of paying more for less, anyway, though I understand ours is on a completely different scale than for somebody living in NYC! We wavered back and forth about trying NYC for awhile but realized at some point along the way we just couldn’t swing it in a way we’d want.

      The show posters are up in the new apartment, though we probably have about two dozen or so that have yet to be framed, including all the shows from out minimoon two years ago now (Book of Mormon, Catch Me If You Can, and Priscilla). Not to mention Once, and How to Succeed, and Everyday Rapture or Wicked, or…we’ll probably end up cycling some of the current ones out to make way for some of the shows we’ve actually seen together!

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