I went apartment hunting with an old friend last Friday and we found this nice cozy place. It’s not accessible to the modern urban centers but it’s also relatively cheaper. I didn’t plan on moving out this year but my superstitious side tells me that I should. In my current boarding house, a couple of troubling things happened. Last year, a young man, in his early twenties and recently married, died in his sleep. He lived downstairs. Earlier this year, my room-mate was afflicted with a terrible illness. I talked him into flying back to his home town to recuperate.
And everybody else has moved in and out, or so it seems. There’s this one common face since I moved here two years ago, the guy two rooms away from me who stayed here for as long as I did. But he flew out of the country last month. When I heard of this, a tinge of sadness flowed through me. He seems like a nice person. I have a crush on him, sure, but I barely knew him. We saw each other in the halls for two years, but it was only two weeks before he went away that we knew of each other’s names with a couple of beers. How’s that? But well, it’s not exactly him why I felt sad. In the past few months, I’ve heard of other friends who moved elsewhere to start new adventures, to stave off the feeling of getting stuck, to do something with their lives. And I’m just here.
I’m going to lift out something from the first page of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life:
“You don’t make enough to cover six months’ rent, and you don’t have anything in savings,” said the agent, suddenly terse. She had checked their credit and their bank accounts and had at last realized that there was something amiss about two men in their twenties who were not a couple and yet were trying to rent a one-bedroom apartment on a dull (but still expensive) stretch of Twenty-fifth Street.
This hit me hard. I was still with my room-mate when I read this first page. To console myself, I fed this thought to my head over and over: I’m just going to be one of those people who will work and rent for the rest of their lives and I should be okay with it. Other people have it worse. Maybe I’ll get my own apartment in a few more years, but I try not to think about that anymore.
When my room-mate left a couple of months ago, I told myself never to live with someone again (unless I pursue a domestic partnership with a guy I love, but that’s very unlikely at this point). It’s already too much to make something good out of your life, so being dragged down with other people’s distressing business is unwelcome. You might think what a worthless and selfish person I am, but I can only do so much for people.
But why did I change my mind? Why am I moving out with another friend? I love being alone, I value my privacy, and I would rather not be involved in other people’s business, yes. But sometimes, the solitary life becomes unbearable. The silences are becoming a bit heavy. There have been moments when I felt the need to talk, but then I realize I have no one to talk to. It doesn’t help that I have shied away from social media and that I have stopped writing in my journal.
So the moment this friend called me and asked me if I want to have another go at this apartment-sharing game, I said yes. After giving that response, I also realized that living with someone again means that it’s actually okay for me to get involved with another person’s life. I just hope it doesn’t get as messy as it did before, please. And I’m happy enough to know that this new person I’ll be living with in two weeks doesn’t mind the amount of space that my books will take (and I certainly don’t mind the kitchen stuff that this friend is towing).
I’ve started taking my books out of the shelves. I don’t want boxes this time. The last time I moved out, the boxes I used were not able to take the weight of the books in it. Perhaps I put too many books per box? Anyway, putting them in stacks that I could carry seems easier. And judging by the books still in the shelves, I imagine there could be potentially 40 to 50 stacks. Never mind the number of stacks that my room will be littered with for the next couple of weeks. I just don’t want any broken bones.
But to be honest, I’m not really looking forward to this. I’ve lived in this city for four years. Sure, the apartment we’ll be moving to is just another city away (7-ish kilometers from here, 20-25 minutes without traffic), but oh well, I guess I have to move on or at least have this sense of moving. Maybe this is a moment for me to get myself unstuck before I hate myself for letting myself be stuck for so long.
Anyway, I want to know how you pack your books. Is my method barbaric? I’ve only done a small set, so I could still change my mind with your suggestions.