Packing Up

Soon, I’ll be leaving a one-bedroom in Bed-Stuy. It’s on the second floor of a brownstone building and I’ve lived here for four years. There are a few reasons why leaving this place will be a big deal for me.

The first one: Four years is the longest I have lived in one home as an adult. It’s the second-longest I have lived in one home in my whole 32-year life. The longest was at my parents’ single-family home in Naples, Florida, ages ~10–18.

I moved a lot. People ask me if I was “a military brat.” Nope, just an only child kind of brat with a father who relentlessly pursued a career related to politics.

When I got out into the world on my own, moving a lot seemed normal to me, so I moved around after I was freed from college, too.

In 2012, I found myself abruptly needing to move back to the States after having lived abroad off and on for nearly three years. I was heartbroken, among many other things. One of them was exhausted. I was tired of being a nomad living out of my suitcases, or close to it. I vowed that I would live in New York City for five years, minimum. I would not keep living out of the three big bags that contained my life at the time.

Here, I have a clothes rack inside a walk-in closet. I marvel at how much is hanging up after all of the laundry is done.

The second one: I didn’t know it at the time, of course, but when I moved into this apartment, it was my last time moving into a place as a single woman.

I’ve been reminiscing about my first few months here, lately. I tried so hard to make it feel like my own space, putting a few knick-knacks and pieces of furniture in different configurations over time. My desk has been in the bedroom, the living room and now it’s in the bedroom again, serving as my husband’s workstation. Making this place feel cozy has never totally worked, though. In a way, that’s part of why we’re moving.

I’ll still look back on how hard I tried to make it look nice and work out, because it’s the last time I’ll have tried by myself.

The third one: An old colleague liked to use the word “scrappy” to describe that ineffable stick-to-itiveness that makes for an outstanding job candidate. I think that word, scrappy, is a handy one in this final reason.

We’re lucky enough (for right now) to have two nice incomes. At our next place, we probably won’t find ourselves looking past half a dozen or more negative qualities about the area or the building, because in our apartment search we weren’t only limited to being in places that have half a dozen or more negative qualities.

Here, I have needed three keys to contend with six locks across three doors whenever I needed to go into or out of the house. I’ve disliked dealing with those locks for months, but I’ll probably miss them. I think that’s what I’m talking about. I’m going to miss being scrappy. It’ll be weird.

Only a few people regularly say hi to me on our block and they tend to be on the old side. One of them died a little while back, I learned. It made me sad, but it was good to know. It explained why I hadn’t seen him around for a bit.

A youngish man and woman run the local laundromat together. They recognize me and greet me happily every single time I’m there. They’re cheerful with everybody. I feel tempted to leave a large tip on the last day we’re there and tell them that we’re moving. I’m worried it might come off all wrong, though, so I probably won’t mention it. Later they’ll wonder where we’ve gone. Or not. They’re busy people.

Soon, we’ll be settled into a new apartment not too far away, in Jersey City. If you have recommendations about the area, please let me know. We’ll be looking for a new spot to grab coffee and a couple of nice faces to say hi to.

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