The Night Before
There’s something totally nerve-wrecking about the night before seeing an apartment.
When I lived in Gent, I remember the absolute panic I felt before seeing my apartment for the first time. My dad and I had spent hours trying to find a place in a safe neighborhood that was within our price range before my actual move to Belgium, and it was easier said than done. We went through hundreds of pages on different real estate websites, when finally, I came across the photo of it- white walls, big windows, gorgeous wood floors- and knew it was the one. It was only a studio apartment, but it was more than enough room for a single person. The kitchen wasn’t fancy- no microwave or freezer, no dishwasher, but it had the essentials. We sent the rent over, and I waited patiently for my flight into Belgium just a few weeks later.
I remember seeing it for the first time.
It was about a 10-15 minute walk from the city center, cradled in a 12th century beguinage, but I didn’t know this at the time. I just saw an old building, beautiful and filled with character, but also potentially something terrifying.
The landlord was running late, so Oliver and I waited on the front steps while it started to drizzle. I was scared of everything- what if there was mold? What if it wasn’t as pretty as it seemed in the photos? What if there was some crazy fungus lurking in its old walls? What if the neighborhood wasn’t safe? I completely panicked. We had already paid the rent up front, so if something was wrong, I was stuck for better or worse, and that kind of commitment was terrifying.
We walked up the narrow flight of stairs (I was on the third story) and were led into the apartment.
The windows were huge and filled with natural light. The train ran right outside my window, which proved to be something soothing for me later on, and the floors were old and worn- simply perfect.The bathroom was… well, it was underwhelming, but for the most part, functional. Sure, if you turned the sink on in the kitchen, the water would slow to a trickle in the bathroom, but otherwise, it did the trick. I even had a balcony, which would have my neighbors looking right on to the toilet, no curtain hung.
(Okay yeah, the bathroom needed a little bit of work.)
But it was a lovely, lovely apartment.
And I still felt nervous.
I remember looking to Oliver when the landlord left and asking him, do you think it’s safe? Do you think it’s okay? and he nodded vigorously.
But it wasn’t until we began cleaning and really getting the vibe of the place that I fell in love.
Tonight is much the same. Everything is out of the Mill and in my parent’s garage and I’m patiently waiting for tomorrow to come, when I can finally see the exact unit we’re planning on renting. Move-in is Saturday, so this has been a long time coming, and to be honest with you, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of dread. My anxiety is through the roof, and I’m worried I’ll have a hard time loving this place as much as I have loved the others.
I think there’s something very intimate about choosing your next place to live that goes beyond aesthetics. There’s a life-changing commitment behind it. By choosing a place to live, you’re committing for at least a year to stay and be satisfied and bear your soul to those walls. You’re committing to less adventures, and saying no to opportunities elsewhere. At least, for a time.
And to me, that’s scary. As much as I am a home-body, I hate giving up the thought of a nomadic lifestyle for any period of time. I like having options and having plan B’s and C’s and… well, quite frankly, you could go down the entire alphabet and I still probably wouldn’t have enough plans. I find comfort in the ability to choose. And when I find myself backed into a corner where I have to make a decision that’s as huge as finding a place to live, I panic. Even though logically, I know the choice is solid and everything will work out, as it always does. Even though logically, I know I’m lucky to even HAVE a choice, to even have a roof over my head.
The panic still kicks in.
And to be honest, I’m not sure if this blog post will have a warm and fuzzy ending tonight. I’m still up late trying to plan my way around this conundrum of mine. I’ve spent hours already planning the set up of the apartment, scouring the floor plans and memorizing as many details as possible. Hopefully tomorrow will come, and I’ll find myself reassured. But until then, I’ll probably be awake, trying to lure my inner optimist out of her hiding place.