Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Something Old and Something New

All the old anxieties are coming back. My social awkwardness, my phobias of change, the lack of familiarity (except for work; I never thought I'd be so grateful for work), the crushing prospect of impermanence. Last night I told my roommate that I was going to be alone forever, and what scares me is that I'm okay with that, even though I don't think I should be okay with that.

The new apartment's weird, man. It's got stairs, which is just not something you expect in New York City, or at least in an undergrad's apartment. Every morning as I leave for work, I'm always surprised by those stairs, as if they magically appeared overnight, as though they don't belong, and for a split second I have to remind myself I'm in the city and not home in Jersey, and as much as I love New York--and I do really, really love it--the realization that you're not home is crushing, and wakes me up more than coffee.

I just don't feel like I live there. This happens every time I move, which, living in New York, I guess I'll have to get used to. The pillowcases feel coarse and new, like a friend's pillowcase that I've just borrowed and will never have to sleep on once mine arrive. My room, or at least my half of the room, is pretty much unpacked, but my suitcases are stacked against the wall, quiet reminders that I'll always be on the move. I have trouble falling asleep because the place feels so new; I have no sense of ownership there. It feels like I'm living in a timeshare, and in another few days I'll move to my real home for the next year, some other dorm with the familiar wooden bedframe and desk with the rounded corners. It hasn't sunk in that I can smoke and drink wherever I please, since I smoked so much in my room last year, so I still feel like I have to be furtive about it. My toiletries are in the bathroom but I hurry my showers in case the real tenants need to take a piss. I brought my old bedroom TV to the apartment, so whenever we watch HBO in the living room I sense a strange mix of novelty and nostalgia, and I can't say I altogether like it. (I watched that TV every night during high school; many nauseous hours were spent distracting myself by the images flickering on the screen.) We don't have any food yet, so we have to order delivery, which only exacerbates the lack of homeyness.

Strangely, having a roommate--well, I have three of them, I suppose, but I'm talking about the boy with whom I share my bedroom--doesn't bother me at all. After living alone for a year, I assumed I'd need a while to adjust, but so far Stiven's proved to be as unobtrusive as a floor lamp but as pleasant as, well, as a friend, the friend he's been to me since freshman year. I can't wait for it to snow so that we can't leave the apartment and I finally have someone to share the scenery with. I can't wait to wake up and stay in my pajamas all day and cook pancakes with Andrea and watch 90s sitcoms with Dhani and just make it a good-ol'-fashioned snow day.

I'll eventually get used to the apartment. I won't hesitate when someone asks me for my address. I'll break in the bed, spill some wine on the sheets, actually put my new desk to use, get locked out and help carry drunk friends up the stairs--you know, turning the house into a home, and so on--but until then I can't help feeling like a traveller who's chosen to reside for a few nights in the room of his soul mate, a mysterious other person who also loves the Fiery Furnaces and David Sedaris, and who too has surely woken up in the middle of the night, terrified of how quickly he jumped into all this, reached for a cigarette, and found a strange solace in the passing of the cars on their way to the Brooklyn Bridge, tiny from the fourth floor, speeding reassurances that the world keeps spinning, providing the perfect background noise to a prolonged smoke at dawn.



Sari said...

i have been reading your guys' blog since gawker...aka im a stalker, hah im only kidding. this is deep and i can totally identify change is hard to get used to. i just grad from college and moved home for the summer.

Shawn said...

i fucking hate change (and by change, i mean moving).

i've been there, even to the extent of missing a place i had hated when living there simply because of its familiarity. i get panicy, and i can't breath. it's horrible. horrible. i feel for you.