Saturday, December 17, 2016

If it's not color coded, I don't want to hear about it

I've lived in an apartment of some kind since the summer after my first year in college. Getting that first apartment was a big deal; my roommate and I took it over from a friend who was graduating so it was like the apartment was staying in the family. It wasn't the greatest apartment ever but it was my first apartment; I still think of it fondly nineteen years later (yikes, I'm old). Back then, moving into a new apartment was exciting and new. It felt like an adventure. I recall that we would overspend at Wal-Mart (Target wasn't really a thing yet) and maybe the thrift store if we were feeling up for it. We needed new things for our new space despite the fact that we didn't have much money and what we bought normally didn't last very long. Inherited furniture was the norm and none of us thought about it for a minute (free is free when you're in college). I remember having dinner parties in this apartment and experiencing those glimmers of adulthood we all have at nineteen. This was what it was like to be on your own and have friends and entertain. I roasted a chicken like a boss back then. One of my favorite photos from that period is from Halloween; we had everyone over before people went their separate ways. One of my friends was dressed in drag as Super Doppler 6000 (people who lived in New Orleans in the late 1990s know what this is) and another friend is sitting in the background with no expression on his face about the costume. It was glorious and weird and exactly what is perfect about college.

This is what happens when I move now.

In the history of my apartments, I've only truly hated one place I lived (I had to break my lease it was so bad) and have loved three of my apartments so much that I often find myself daydreaming about living in them once again. For the record those apartments would be: the Broadway house, my second apartment in Alameda, and my lovely studio on Bordeaux Street. Two of these apartments are in New Orleans; this probably means something.

When I moved back to Virginia four-ish years ago, I had a crappy time finding an apartment. For anyone not familiar with the DMV, real estate in this area is ridiculously priced (overpriced I would say). If I want to pay a reasonable amount of rent, I'd have to live an hour away from work (at least) which is probably more like a 2-3 hour commute each way. I don't hate myself so this is not an option. Paying for proximity makes me rage-ful but it's the way it works here. I knew this going into my search when I moved back, however, I didn't prepare myself to be wildly disappointed by how not worth the money most of these places are. Curious what a junior one bedroom is like? That's just a fancy way of saying "studio apartment with no washer and dryer." Affordable housing in the DMV is a huge and I can only imagine what families face when going through this. I have the luxury of just needing a place for me and the great Pumpkin but that doesn't mean it's any less disappointing when you look at what you pay versus what you actually get. Of course, leasing companies know this and they see us all coming.

I've never been interested in owning a home; owning a home in this area wouldn't necessarily be any better for me. I assume my disinterest in home ownership is because I grew up in the military; we moved every few years. I don't have a childhood home per se. The houses I grew up in are probably still there but my parents don't live in any of them. They moved into their current house in the early 2000s; I lived there for about four months during Hurricane Katrina. It's a lovely house but not my house. I don't really know if not having a childhood home has anything to do with not wanting to own a home but I'm sure it's a contributing factor. I see houses I like all the time; I just have no inclination to buy one. Maybe I fancy myself a vagabond and buying a house would go directly against that idea.

I'm moving to a new apartment the first weekend of January. I don't really have to move but I'm feeling restless and this was the easiest way to cure my restlessness. Unlike 99.9% of the population, I enjoy moving. Moving appeals to the organizer in me; it's a system with processes and I like systems with processes. I like to think of moving in different phases: search phase, purge/donation phase, pre-packing phase, final packing phase, and unpacking phase. The search phase is the phase I like the least; I'm impulsive when it comes to apartment shopping. I get frustrated easy and have little patience for listening to the same leasing office spiel over and over. This means I either rent the first place I see or I look at a million places before making a decision while simultaneously complaining to everyone and needing a drink after each visit. I only looked at three places this time around and it was definitely enough.

My favorite phases are the purge/donation phase and the unpacking phase. I love getting rid of things; I don't do it often enough. There's something satisfying about throwing shit away. I can still be sentimental about people and memories without having all the freaking clutter. Why did I keep all of this stuff I haven't looked at since 2000? Do I really need these Christmas lights I haven't used since I moved into this apartment? For this particular move, I did something I've never done before: I tried on all of my clothes. It's sounds bananas but it was awesome. I went through my closest, my chest of drawers, and the two bins of stuff under my bed. The donation pile is huge and it makes me feel good about my life. I got rid of things that don't fit (mostly too big - score!), things I've only worn once or twice, and a few things I've never worn and feel bad about wasting money on. I went through all my shoes and pared that mess down too. It feels good to shed the unnecessary. I, like many other women, have kept clothes thinking I'd wear them when I was a little skinnier or whatever but seriously, it's not worth it. I'd rather keep clothes I love and enjoy wearing than clothes that make me feel bad about myself or have some unrealized purpose associated with them. I have zero fucks to give about unrealized purpose and clothing. It's all about being comfortable and fashionable - I can. scratch that, I am both.

The other thing I did in this phase, and I know I'll do more of when I get to the new place, is evaluate my baking equipment. I have amassed a lot of baking accoutrements over the years. I'm not even sure where some of it came from since I don't recall buying several of the items that were in my hall closet but I also don't recall receiving them as gifts. Where did these mystery baking pans come from? Anyway, after getting over my shock of having mystery pans, I was able to cull down my collection and add the others to the donation pile. They're all in really good shape so there's that.

I'm looking forward to the unpacking phase. It takes me back to the excitement I used to feel whenever we'd move when I was younger and the adventure of my first apartment in college. I see unpacking as opportunity - how will I design my new space? Do I keep my books organized by color because it's nice to look at despite being hard to find things or do I revert back to alphabetical order? Alphabetical order is boring so I have a feeling I'll keep my color organization going. I mean, look at how visually appealing that is. It's like my books are saying, "Welcome home, Erin!"

What about my CDs and records? Should I entertain the grand reorganization style of 2002 when I organized my CDs autobiographically? This takes forever to figure out and I need to invest in a new storage system for them. Autobiographical organization is based on the time in life that you purchased the album. So it's like an episode of "This is Your Life" as told through CDs. Or maybe "Behind the Music" without the drug addiction, car crashes, and poor life choices. How should I arrange my art? What goes where in my closet (organized by color and clothing type because that's the only way to organize a closet)? What about my shoes? Don't even get me started on my kitchen. There are so many possibilities when you move into a new space. Organization is an art form; I'm looking forward to working in my greatest medium. 

You know who's not going to be happy about the move? Pumpkin. Despite her love of jumping in boxes, she's really going to miss her heater.

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