James and I started sending each other apartment listings this week. Thanks to my parents and popsicles, we were able to sit still long enough to think about moving and so we allowed ourselves the indulgence of daydreaming. We’re pinning tentative hopes on finding a Brooklyn apartment with doors we can close long enough for us to tap out sentences and teach students virtually and maybe find reserves of energy for parenting with a bit more grace and lighter spirits. In this world turned topsy-turvy, we’re trying to learn how to hang upside down.
The listings we send each other come via texts, auto-populated from rental websites. They appear on our phones with innocuous-enough greetings, “Check out this new listing…” but every time I get one, my heart jumps. I’m sorry to report that when it comes to apartment searching I have absolutely no chill. I’m not able to offer calming guidance for a stress-free search. There’s no leisurely scrolling through listings, tea cup in hand for me. It’s an all-out adrenaline fueled hunt. I see a listing and my mind begins making an involuntary catalog of what I would love and what might need tweaking and what I fear could break me. I’m poring over floor plans and furniture dimensions. Could our table fit there? Is that closet they’re calling a room big enough for a bunk bed? Is that an ancient dishwasher I see squeezed in the corner of that photo? Scroll back, scroll forward, pinch in, zoom out.
Spinning in the background there are the calculations of fees and income and what we’d be able to afford. There are maps pulled up and walking distances estimated and routes reimagined. There’s our current lease and permission to sublet to consider; a bevy of landlords and agents who might not see the urgency in finding a new place to plunk zinnias in a white pitcher.
I’m going to an apartment viewing this afternoon. I’m afraid this listing might be too good to be true, but I’m going anyway, armed for the hunt with the advice of a friend: “Ask for it out loud.” Please, and thank you.