Every Person That’s Been In Your Apartment

November 30th 2014

Story originally written and experienced: November 7th 2012

“Olive, should I get the gray ones or the white ones?”

“The white ones.”

“Hmm…yeah…I think I like the white ones too.”

We had been here before. This Bed, Bath and Beyond. I had at least. Twice, actually. Once when I first moved to New York City. Then when Meg moved right after me. And the third time was now. With Nicole. As we stood there on the

lower level

of this 3 story Bed, Bath and Beyond in Lincoln Center wondering if she should opt for the gray candles or the white ones.

“Olive, should I get the gray ones or the white ones?”

“The white ones.”

“Hmm…yeah…I think I like the white ones too.”

She put the white ones in her basket and I asked her if we got everything we needed.

“I think we did. Let’s hail a cab and take it all to my new apartment?”

“Definitely. I’m excited to see it.”

“Wanna order pizza and eat it on the floor since I don’t have any furniture yet?”

“Definitely. I’m excited to see it.”

“The pizza?”

“Yup.”

“Same.”

We threw our wish purchases on the cashier’s counter and patiently waited as she

beeped           from           item           to           item

“Cash or credit?” She finally asked.

“Credit.”

We left the building. Our arms weighted with a plethora of bags holding a collection of new things.

All

listed

out

on

the

world’s

longest

receipt.

We hailed a cab. Jumped in. And seconds later Nicole had Domino’s pizza on the phone.

“Hi! Yes can we have a medium cheese pizza with a side of cheesy bread please? Oh and ranch too!”

They said yes. And in

1

2

37 minutes.

There we were.

In the middle of her new (and empty) bedroom. Eating pizza. On the floor. Leaning against big bags that held a collection of new things. And that’s when she told me.

“Be honest.”

“About what?”

“My new apartment. My new room. Do you like it?”

“I love it. I honestly do.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, despite the fact you have a couch in your kitchen due to the lack of living room.”

“I know—classic New York city apartment dilemma.”

“I know. Something’s gotta give.”

“I think I’m going to call it the ‘kitchingroom’ “

“You should. Let’s do that. But yeah everything else about this place is great. You have two big windows in your room. A fake fireplace. Wood floors. You killed it.”

“Thanks! Yeah I think the fake fireplace might be my favorite part. I’m excited to put the candles in there. Should we do it now?”

“Let’s do it.”

And so we did.

candle fireplace

Tada.

And we emptied the rest of the white bags. And began to rearrange everything. And find a place for everything. And re-imagine everything.

Where we should put this. And that. And somehow wondering along the way where the people prior had put them before.

And it made me realize.

As we were filling up her empty room.

That this room had been empty and full  many times before.

By different people. For different reasons.

Maybe it was an artist a few years ago who found it through a friend, and originally she wanted it because of the great price but the real selling factor? Was the exposed brick she found herself enamored with. So she signed the contract. And it did her well. And she liked it. And she filled it with everything from paint brushes to waterproof pencils.

But eventually.

She got an offer she couldn’t refuse. In Philadelphia. So she packed up her paintings and sketchbook, said goodbye to her starving artist days in her starving artist apartment, and emptied her personal canvas of an entire year—and agreed to give it to someone else.

And maybe that someone else was a guy. A student. The apartment was only a handful of blocks away from Columbia University after all. And he was an engineering major with a math minor but the reason he lived a little farther                                    away was because he promised his girlfriend he’d move in with her.

To prove that he was serious.

And it went well. And it was fine. It bothered her there wasn’t a “real living room,” but for the price and the location? It was the best they could do. They were a quintessential example of young love gone rushed. And what started as a small argument over what to do with the fake fireplace and what curtains to put on the two big windows, segued into “is this relationship really what you want?” “You’ve been more distant lately.” “What’s going to happen when we graduate and we pursue jobs in different cities?” And then graduation day came. And so did the end of the apartment lease.

And no one knows what happened to them after that.

Just that so many of their monumental decisions filled that once empty room on 107th street and Amsterdam Ave—before they agreed to give it to someone else.

And maybe that someone else was a transfer. A young man who once worked in Columbus, Ohio but scored an irresistible job offer to work in the big city. Try it out. Why not? So he did. And this apartment was the best place he could find.

The location was a bit                     out of the way.

But he was here.

And he made it.

Finally.

And he was trying something new.

He didn’t know anyone in the city. Not at all. And he wasn’t making as much money as he hoped. And the cost of living was so unbearably high. But he was close to the park, had a decent view of the bustling street down

below

through two big windows, and something about the exposed brick kind of reminded him of home. And then one year passed by. And suddenly he found that the big city felt pleasantly smaller. Because the apartment he once filled with lonely nights with Chinese food, progressively became more empty on the weekends. Because he was with his new friends. In a city that finally felt familiar. And he got a promotion. With bigger pay. That let him afford a bigger place. And that’s when he agreed he was ready to give up his stepping stone in New York—to someone else.

And it was Nicole.

And there we were. Rearranging candles in a fake fireplace that was once used as a nook for art supplies, laundry, or nothing at all. Candles we spent many a minute choosing in a Bed, Bath and Beyond that was not so far away. She had found this apartment on Craigslist. On a whim.  From a business man that was “looking to move into a bigger place but highly recommended it as a place to live.” She needed somewhere temporary. And this worked out great. It was her first home in New York City. A concrete area that made her feel like she belonged.

Like the city was officially hers. And she was officially the city’s.

And to celebrate we ate pizza.

On the floor. And put up pictures on the walls that used to hold a collage of the artist’s paintings or a mix of photos from both the girlfriend’s family and her live-in boyfriend’s as well. And of course an oversized flag of the working man’s favorite football team.

And it made me realize.

That each time this apartment, or any apartment is emptied or refilled, it symbolizes the end of one adventure, and the beginning of a completely new one.

For the person moving in >>

<< And the person moving out

A great physical representation that every person stepping into your apartment, and every person stepping out of it, came and went for a reason. And wherever they’re going and the reason they came is filled with intention, adventure and the pursuit of something new.

And how strange it is that these places serve as physical capsules of the good, the bad and the great in our lives.

And how incredibly great, cool and hell I’m just going to say it “moving” that really is.