It all depends on the quality you’re seeking. There’s an expression I learned back when I started making films. You want your movie to be three things: “Fast, inexpensive, and good.” But the thing is, you can only have two out of three.
It applies to apartments too. If you’re prepared to pay a lot, you can have a good place quickly. But if you’re patient, and take your time, you can find the perfect place, at the right price. Does this apply to dating too? If we don’t pressure ourselves with deadlines – if we leave our options open and keep looking – will the right thing come our way?
I’ve lived in NYC for years (with a six year detour in LA) in many apartments and neighborhoods. When I was living with my ex-husband, the choice of apartment had different criteria. Now that I’m single, and in the five years since I moved back to NY, the specs have changed. At first, I just needed something that was mine, that I could call my own (and that permitted large dogs), and I found it. It was cheap, I found it quickly, and I felt triumphant because it was my first apartment post divorce. But after two years, when I started to gain my confidence and independence back, I began to see the apartment for what it was – a shithole masquerading as “It’s mine not ours!” glee. My neighbors were note-leaving, wall-pounding assholes, and the kitchen was a shelving unit. And while I don’t cook, I thought (okay, my Mom did) that moving to a place with an actual kitchen might inspire me to (it hasn’t).
I decided to rent a new place. This decision coincided with my break up (the first or second one- can’t recall) with ex-cub #1 (sounds like a Cougar dating show). I stupidly gave notice on the shit hole and had to find a new apartment within 3 weeks. I didn’t think I would find something in time. “Apartment hunting is harder than dating!” I dramatically texted to four friends simultaneously. I was a wreck. I wanted something bigger and nicer, that I could “grow into” (read: stay in even if I had a baby and/or a new husband) but I soon realized I couldn’t afford it. And the two apartments I liked wouldn’t take pets (the bastards). It dawned on me that I was in no position, emotionally or financially, to be making decisions in the present based on where I might hypothetically be in the future.
I found a place in the end, which I live in now. I like it. It’s pretty. It’s more expensive than I wanted, and probably need (I got fast and nice. Not cheap. You catching on?). But I realized in all that searching that it is so easy to see something you kind of like, without having to commit to it. In the hyper scramble that is Man-hattan, with so many options – apartments we missed, men we didn’t get to meet – isn’t there always something better just around the corner?
These perceived options can paralyze us from making a choice, and sometimes paralyze us permanently. Renting, dating, moving from place to place in search of the next thing, when sometimes, the right thing might be right in front of you. Right?
After one year in my pretty new place, my rent has been significantly increased. Time to move again! (same time as break up with ex-cub #2…hmm…).
Except this time, I have a different attitude. I’m not freaking out. But it’s not because I’m not in a rush. It’s because I realize that nothing is perfect. Nor permanent. Besides, it’s only an apartment. I know what is important to me – not later, in three years – but today (location, price, and vibe. It doesn’t matter if it’s smaller than a newborn).
So I went to look at some apartments today. Mom and Dad came along, even though all of the apartments were below 24th Street, without a Zabars, Fairway, or yarmulke-wearing dude in sight. Mom did perk up when she spotted a synagogue on W 12th Street. She didn’t know we had those downtown.
We had a great day, even though I found myself caught in moments of brief despair regarding where I was headed, and who I would meet next. And whether it would finally stick. But I didn’t say anything to my parents. They didn’t ask about my recent breakup, or whether there was a new guy, even when my Blackberry beeped with texts that made me smile (yes, that is all I am divulging…now). At dinner afterwards (5pm early bird special, of course), amidst the apartment discussion my dad surprised me when he gestured towards my mother across the table and said to me, “Look at your mother. Isn’t she cute? From the second I saw her, I decided I wasn’t going to waste any time. It’s been 45 years.”
So I guess in some very special cases, it’s possible to have all three.