The Things We Crave

It’s not really a conventional time to think about the year in review. But my lease is almost up, and I’m already thinking about 2013/2014 as the year I lived in New York City.

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I got an internship, packed up my Most Important Things, adjusted my First Apartment Expectations something MAJOR, and signed a lease I paid something like $75 to be notarized too many times. I bought a twin air mattress, a clothing rack, and the smallest Dutch oven I could find. I went through several bottles of bleach, 4,792 moments of sheer panic, and a staggering number of Levain Bakery cookies.

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I figured out how to unlock/lock my door and made an extra copy of my keys. Sweet-talked the guy at my new bank into giving me exactly 12 checks. Sent a few very regrettable text messages. Found a laundromat, a cockroach, and another reason to go home. Listened to someone get evicted, someone punch a wall, and someone get divorced. Made the executive decision not to meet any of my new neighbors.

I came half a step away from landing on a rat’s tail the first time I went running. Almost lost my mind in Ikea. Thought much too much about all the germs on the subway. Practiced deep breathing in the checkout line at Trader Joe’s. Felt horribly anxious, all the time. Made a lot of vegetable soup. Forgot how to sleep through the night. Took the trash out, every day. Learned to bake my own bread.

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I worked a lot. Cried more. Budgeted, re-budgeted. Went too bed too late, woke up too early. Ate a truly disturbing number of eggs. Stopped drinking bottled water and started making curries without any curry powder. Watered my plants, cleaned my toilet, and listened to Everything’s gonna be all right / Rockabye, rockabye on repeat. Fell in love with a memory.

I worked more. Threw out the dead plants. Stress-ate, sad-ate, lonely-ate. Hated my body. Got hired. Adjusted my First Salary Expectations, BIG TIME. Neglected to celebrate. Wanted so badly for it to work out. Eventually accepted that it wouldn’t. Gave my two weeks. Had heart palpitations, and a lot of brownies.

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Went home for a month. Detoxed. Managed two wide grip pull-ups, and the fastest mile I’ve ever run. Pushed myself to get back on the train. Applied for what felt like every job under the sun. Missed every ex-boyfriend I’d ever had. Dated a little, then decided not to rush. Got coffee with anyone who would go (girls). Spent a lot of time at the gym, and even more time writing. Read 7,349 blogs. Felt inadequate/inspired. Finally learned to like coffee. Met people I’d wished I’d met in high school, in college. Made friends — good friends.

I made lots of in-no-order lists, and kept track of the things that made me feel happy: firm mattresses, fresh air, and free time. Leisurely breakfasts and specialty food markets. Purpose. And people to cook and eat with. Time alone and time to write. Pretty photos. Coastlines. Carbohydrates. Trees.

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I had a lot of time to think — too much time. Decided that I was round where others were flat and flat where others were round. Felt mostly okay about it, eventually. Ate a whole fish.

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I read a few good books, wrote a lot of snail mail. Bribed myself to write more cover letters. Thought I would die of loneliness, on the floor of my tiny studio. Discovered fig jam. Picked myself up. Networked like an extroverted person. Stumbled over how to pronounce croissant. Had a few anxiety attacks.

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I almost got a job I really, really wanted. Got an email that might have changed everything (and still might). Got acquainted with rejection. Got to know it, intimately. Got a job — kind of, sort of. Learned a lot about cherries, while I was at it.

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I got much better at letting my to-do list rollover. Cooled it on compulsively color-coding labels in Gmail. Realized I needed to have much more confidence in myself. Decided “savings account” might be the biggest misnomer there ever was. Second-guessed every decision I’d made in the last 10 months. Called my best friend, hated the time change. Emailed my dad, kept filling him in. Craved security. Structure. Connection. Another crack at love. My mom’s chocolate zucchini cake. Nature. No filters.

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I went for a walk every afternoon, took a lot of pictures, worried about the state of the world, and wished spring would come. Put past loves back in the past, where they belonged. Felt completely unglued, again. Considered quitting my almost-job and moving somewhere else. Starting over, again. Somewhere cheaper. Quieter. With a few friends?

I thought myself in circles. Paced the 5 steps of available apartment 5,000 times. Ate too much, practically living in my kitchenette. Gained back a few pounds. (Don’t feel okay about it, yet.) Sobbed to a stranger. Collected a thousand quotes. Wrote a million notes to self.

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So…what’s next?

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Cacti, hugs, sun, and hikes. (The Grand Canyon!) A long talk with my favorite person in the world. A cooking class. An afternoon in a bathing suit, if I can muster up the courage. And more thinking, and more writing. But beyond that? I have no idea. I’m trying to find it exciting. But really…really I just want to locate nearest flat rock, patch of sunlight, and least bruised apple. And make myself at home.

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