Wait Till You Get All Your Stuff In

The good thing about having a very immediate-yet-mostly-dealable crisis is that it focuses all your nervous energy into a very specific direction: Do This Thing, Now. Make It Happen. Make It Work. The night sweats and the upset stomach and the inability to concentrate all of a sudden have a reason and a purpose: I am freaking out because I have to get a new place, right now. It can feel really good to finally have a real and actual to-do list instead of just a sinking feeling of nameless dread, because at least your to-do list has items that can potentially be checked off. It’s way easier to make calls and take a personal tour of every horrifying one-bedroom flat in Wellington than to just try to… sort your life out.

So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last two weeks. We needed to fill the third room in this house and we couldn’t fill it, and all of a sudden we were faced with having to cover the rent on the room and still trolling for a new person to move in and looking at new places to live, without knowing if we were staying or going or when we could move in or out or anything. I’d started to suspect that I wasn’t doing very well a couple of weeks ago but it was all still pretty vague—the kind of wrong where nothing is really…wrong, except everything is wrong. But all of a sudden I had no time for those sorts of thoughts because now something was about to be very specifically wrong as things kicked into high gear and I was waking up at five-thirty every morning to dry heave and frantically check TradeMe, running (sometimes literally) all over town to view flats, telling myself to breaaaaathe deeeeeeply and that the worst-case scenario was that I would put my stuff in storage and stay with friends for a couple weeks if I had to.

I’d thought (a lot) about trying to find my own place the last time I went through a bit of flatmate shuffling, back in February, which, in New Zealand, is back-to-school time and in Wellington is notorious for returning-university-student-related housing difficulties. Instead I bought a bunch of crockery and two eighty-percent-life-sized couches and a vacuum cleaner and a toaster and a kettle and nice stainless-steel pots and pans and just stayed in my little blue-painted room, contentedly enough, not really willing to make any major changes at that time. I liked the people and I liked the view over Evans Bay and everything was just sort of…fine.

This time around, though—I was very clear that I was done with flatting and that I was going to get my own place come what may. I may have even raised my fist to the sky with righteous conviction, right before I went to anxiety-vomit and check TradeMe again. I don’t know. And then I found a place I really liked and missed getting it by hours, which lead me, of course, to cry. And then it turned out that a friend in a similar situation was looking too, and that we went to see a bunch of places together, and then we applied for the same place and then I got it the next day, and then I felt the worst guilt ever, and then we went to see another place down the street and around the corner from where my new place is, and she loved it and then she got it that night and I was the happiest person ever. Happy for her, I mean. I have not quite got around to being happy for myself.

This is what you’ve been wanting—and talking about wanting–for at least a year, people keep telling me. It’s going to be great. I know this is true. I know living on my own—which I haven’t done since North Seattle in 2004– is unequivocally the best thing for me at this time in my life, that there is basically no other option for me if I want to be anything other than completely insane. I’ve made it work financially (I think). I’ve booked the movers and brought over a couple of bags and boxes already. Giulia and Alice came to see it with me today and told me what they thought of the layout (weird but good) and the wardrobes (big) and the kitchen (very weird). When I told my mom this afternoon that the kitchen can be sealed off from the corridor by a sliding door, she went “Oh good! So you can suffer in misery there all by yourself and I was all “Mooooooommm! That is so not the point of kitchens!” Alice and I sat on the floor and talked a little bit about which way the bed should go in what will become my bedroom, and Giulia offered her dehumidifier. “Wait till you get all your stuff in it,” they both said, seeing that I was still a little shaky and possibly not quuuuite as excited as you’d think. “It’s going to be really good.”

I need to be reminded of that, it seems. Mostly I just feel stressed about the whole thing, albeit in a completely different way to this time last week when I didn’t have a place. I moved into the current house with a suitcase and a Briscoe’s bag and now I’m moving out with a whole house’s worth of possessions. I have to start a two-hour-per-day commute in two weeks, right as public transport fares are going up, and I’m a little worried about making the bus from my new place. I’m concerned about how I’m going to heat the place, which is really just code for my ‘concern’ about whether I can actually afford it at all.

There’s even a part of me that wonders if I’m going to be lonely in the new place, rattling around under the track lighting, after having shared housing—sometimes with strangers in dorm rooms! Sometimes with people I met in college! Sometimes with people I met on the internet! Sometimes with my mom!—for over a half a decade. I wonder if my life is just going to be, like: commute two hours a day, go to yoga if I make it back to town on time, go to the store for raisin bread and plain Greek yogurt, go home to cold house with 80s wallpaper, go to bed, the end. (Maybe I would manage to read a book every now and then?)

Okay, I did manage to loiter around the hipster tschotske shop for a wee while on Friday afternoon and look at adorable little homewares and decorations and such and try to picture what they would look like in the new place. I have spent a couple of hours on Etsy favoriting beautiful little letterpress prints, international shipping be damned. I’ve thought a little bit about how nice it will be to have a spare room for when people from overseas come to visit. I’ve thought about how nice it will when people from Wellington come over for dinner and a movie.

I can’t really picture myself there very clearly, yet—will my stuff fit in? Will I fit in?—but it doesn’t matter because I’ll be there soon enough. Soon my time in this house, from which I am typing in front of the fire (no more hauling firewood! No more five hundred flights of steps!) as the crazy springtime wind whooshes outside—will be over. I’m ready, I think, to shake this dust off my feet. I’m not going to be more naïve than necessary and think that moving to a new apartment will change everything, but I am almost hopeful that it will change some things. Something.

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  1. Congratulations on having a place of your own! Can’t wait to see pictures!

    (Not sure what’s going on with that link in the 4th paragraph.)

  2. Living by myself really worked for me at that point in time. You sound totally ready for it. The commute is long but more time for reading right?
    You have such an active social life that it’s hard to imagine you’ll be lonely.

    Good luck in the new place.

  3. Glad you have a new place, bet that’s a load off your mind!

    (The link in the fourth paragraph, the <a href="" tag isn’t ended properly – you just have > instead of – which means the link doesn’t end there, but rather later on down in the North Seattle link, which seals and joins both links, and orphans all the text in between.)

  4. Okay, link fixed now!

  5. Chiara, my geography is terrible so I have no idea whether Wellington was directly affected by the recent natural disaster. Just want to make sure that you’re OK. Since, apparently, you fixed a link 2 days ago I think you are. In which case I guess this comment is just to say YAY! You’re OK!

    And my geography sucks.

  6. I was wondering about the quake too! We have never met, but I feel I know you, so my first thought when I heard there was a quake in NZ was I wonder how Chiara is doing? I am glad you are safe and wish you much happiness in your home.

    Thanks for sharing your life!

  7. Just wanted to say that I think you are going to do quite find living by yourself. I just bought a house, and though I love it I do regret never taking the time to get the single girl downtown apartment in the old Victorian building. It was something i dreamed of as a teenager, and unless I leave my boyfriend and cats here at the house and move out, it’s one thing I’ll never do. Enjoy your space!

  8. Congratulations! I, personally, absolutely loved living by yourself. Sure, you may spend a lot of quiet nights at home alone reading, but if you don’t want to do that? You can go out and do something else. You’ve got enough freinds in Wellington that you’ll never be lonely unless you want to be, I think.