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Apartment-Dwelling for Dummies

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Apartment-Dwelling for Dummies photo

To be fair, this is not a recent picture.

My favorite hashtag on Twitter is #firstworldproblems. On a fundamental level, I am grateful that my most pressing needs don’t include keeping myself warm or being responsible for feeding other mouths in my household. On the level that I am privileged enough to have a Twitter account to complain on, however, I am deeply frustrated by my inability to like anything that I own right now.

You know that feeling. All your furniture is from Craigslist, and you want to stop living like a college student. Your clothes keep winding up on the floor, and none of your outfits satisfy you anymore. My last place was a small one-bedroom, and the place before that a studio. Now I live in a large one-bedroom furnished with the first-apartment wares of a studio, and while I appreciate that minimalist look in other spaces, in my own digs, I would like to not feel like I moved in yesterday. (I confess, there are still boxes lurking in corners. If it’s hidden from view by a bookshelf, does it still count?) The total effect is that somehow I have both too much stuff and not enough. First World Problems-palooza, right?

I might not be in such a knot about this if I wasn’t hopelessly addicted to Apartment Therapy and other decorating blogs. Whenever I see what some ingenious city-dweller has done with a spare 500 square feet and some suitably eccentric knick-knacks, I get pangs of envy. I am a connoisseur of junk. Seriously, you should see what I just cleaned out of my room back home. Why am I then so freaked out about putting a nail in the wall and showing off my oddball treasure on a shelf? (There is an answer to this, but it involves an irrational fear of opening a gigantic crack in the wall because I chose the one spot to hang a picture that will open up the structural integrity of the building like the gaping maw of a kraken.) Why does it take me so long to make decisions? (Go on, ask my friends how long it’s taken me to decide on colors for my walls. Then ask me if I have, in fact, done any painting whatsoever. The answer may not surprise you.) Why does my gorgeous apartment still look like the ink on the lease is waiting to dry?

For a long time, I’ve done a lot of justifying to myself. When I was 18, I went from living in one house my whole life to moving every few months for the next five years. I would never go so far as to call that trauma, but I will say that I have a hard time thinking about how much time I will enjoy in an apartment, versus how much trouble it will be to take it all down and pack it up again. Most people make resolutions in January, but I don’t see why the end of a year isn’t also a fitting time to set some goals. I’m scouting out some places to donate those clothes I’m sick of, and several people have suggested Freecycle as a place to unload that old IKEA furniture. Nowhere is it written that just because I own a thing or inhabit a place, it can’t change.

I’m looking forward to my junk-free future. It’ll take some planning, and some (ulp) investment, but I think in the long run, it’s better to settle in somewhere than to settle for it. Then again, the plan could always go off the rails. The Renegade Holiday Craft Fair is this weekend. Surely a new couch can wait for my bank account to cool off after that…?


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