I Would Move 500 Books, And I Would Move 500 More

I’ve spent the last three days cleaning, reorganizing my apartment, and running errands. Took some time off of work, cleared my personal scheduled, and then buckled down while listening to a backlog of Besties podcasts (I kinda fell off in June because I started listening to Friends At The Table and all my podcast time vanished into their massive backlog). If you’re looking for some pleasant voices to listen to talk about video games who are willing to admit when they’re wrong or have stuck their foot in their mouth, The Besties are a good source for that. A bunch of lovely voices to scrub the shit out of your apartment to.

Initially, my plan for this week was simply to clean. I was preparing for a friend to visit and realized my space wasn’t really set up for guests (which is unsurprising, given that I moved during the first summer of this pandemic and didn’t think I’d have people over much, if ever). I had a few ideas for remedying that situation, all of them perfectly acceptable and quite reasonable, but I’ve also kind of hated my apartment for a long time.

Back in January, I had a bit of a breakdown. A small one, with no major panic or screaming or any of the behavior stereotypically associated with breakdowns, but it was a breakdown. I had a minor panic attack that lasted for two whole days, briefly lost the ability to sleep, and was being driven insane by the noises of my upstairs neighbors thumping around their apartments (a degree of noise that likely was always present but that I had, before then, easily ignored). I also hadn’t physically been around anyone in months, rarely left my apartment, was caught up in a siege mentality, and I frequently went days without talking. I was a mess.

I am doing better now. I’m not entirely better, but I’m having an easier time most days. Which isn’t a difficult hurdle to clear, but it’s one I make sure I notice each time I clear it. Not as an affirmation or in a way that feels like making note of a success, but as an acknowledgement that things were hard and still are hard. Living alone in a pandemic is the worst. My roommate situation from before the pandemic fell apart, I’ve been cutting off toxic relationships, and I generally just don’t see many people anymore. All of it makes it easy to feel incredibly isolated and lonely.

Now that I’ve mostly dealt with those feelings and am working on addressing them in the ways that are safely available to me right now, I figured it was time to take the next step. This apartment was only supposed to be a temporary stopping point, a way to get out of an increasingly untenable living situation, the first decent place as a stopover while I found something more permanent. Yet here I am, over a year later, and unlikely to move any time soon.

Buying a house in an increasingly difficult option in my area and my mounds of student debt mean I don’t really feel the privilege my annual income would normally afford a single person. Not to mention being partially employed for most of 2020 wiped out a great deal of my savings, and moving wiped out the rest. Not that there was much there, but it was a nice security blanket and emergency fund. All of which is to say that moving is only going to make my rent go up even further (a shitty apartment I lived in for $600 in 2014 is now going for about $950) and I will never be able to buy a house if I don’t at least keep my rent relatively stable.

With most other options either off the table or unlikely to be any better than my current ones (though I may still move if this apartment is as cold this winter as it was last winter), I’ve focused on making myself more comfortable here. Rearranging my spaces to make more room for guests, to make better use of my space, to fill some of the blank walls with color and life, was my ticket to mental reclamation. Little of substance has changed, but already this place feels more homey than before. Some of it might be the placebo effect, some of it might be the “I’m going to be hosting someone” effect (I like hosting and having people over makes a place feel like “home” to me), but the rest is a reflection of my active choice to embrace this place.

I may be physically exhausted from scrubbing every inch of the floor, hauling all my books around, moving every piece of furniture I own, and vacuuming/sweeping everything multiple times, but I earned this exhaustion. Even if I’m so sore and worn out that I had a difficult time falling asleep last night, I earned this. Now all I need to do is get some rest and I’ll be good to go for a new week. Or month, I guess, since this is going up on October 30th. Maybe I’ll even manage to do NaNoWriMo without further burnout.

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