Prep Steps: A Healthy Purging (Part I)*

There is a lot to think about and to do in preparation for a move — whether it be down the street or in my case, to a foreign country.  Before setting up shop in HK, I have to dismantle what I’ve got in NYC.

Step 1 – My Apartment.  As I’ve mentioned before, and for those of you who have been over would know, I have a great setup here in New York.  Back in April 2004, my law school roommate (and now one of my most important friends), Anna, and I had to figure out what we would do for housing post-graduation.  We had the option of staying in our incredibly located West Village dorm on Mercer Street for the summer while we studied for the bar exam(s) (we were over-achievers and both took bar exams for 2 states), or we could sally forth and move into our first “grown up’s” apartment.

I had actually never rented an apartment in my life at this point.  I went straight through from college to law school and had always lived in a dormitory or a housing situation set up by my school (my first law school dorm was at this luxury building in Battery Park City, 1 West Street, called “The Ocean”), so the whole task was at once exciting and exhausting.  We’d searched high and low for apartments within a certain price range throughout the lower half of Manhattan (and dabbled in Brooklyn).  The most difficult aspect of the whole thing was finding a 2BR apartment that had equitably sized bedrooms.  We were finding lots of places that either had a master bedroom and then some tiny kids’ room; or we were finding the “2BR flex” — meaning, you could get a company in to construct a temporary wall to create a second bedroom – a common phenomenon in NYC.  Then, of course, I just never felt a place was “right.”  Once I rejected an apartment because I just didn’t like the doorknobs (or that was the excuse I proffered), and Anna nearly strangled me!

Then Anna came across this sweet sweet place via a Craigslist post, an apartment we would come to call The Chelsea Duplex, and most importantly, home.  It is a charming and unique space — not some boring luxury building or 1 of 100s in a giant complex — located on the upper edge of Chelsea on a tree-lined residential street, close to just about every train needed, with its own private entrance, a working wood burning fireplace, two levels with a loft, tons of closets, 1.5 bathrooms, exposed brick.  Home!!

home!

home!

Who’d ‘a’ thought we’d find all this in the middle of Manhattan?! Well, I’d come to love this apartment for 5 years, and in NYC, that is actually pretty rare.  People tend to move around often in the City for a variety of reasons — roommate dysfunction, serious issues with the premises (btw – this is not to say the Chelsea Duplex was perfect by far!), life changes (e.g., marriage, moving in with or moving out from sig-others, job changes), or most commonly – exorbitant rent increases.  Luckily, life was pretty constant for us at the Chelsea Duplex.  I had 2 roommate changes after Anna left in 2007, but besides that, have lived rather contently here.

So my first thought about the apartment was to just sublet my space all furnished.  This way I did not have to kick out my roommate, break my lease that I had JUST re-signed for another year (yes, how convenient… why can’t life changing decisions be made BEFORE the landlord asks you to renew your lease?), or even move any of my furniture.  Also, I would know I could always come back to the apartment whenever it is I returned — whether it be December, May, or whenever (I could potentially keep renewing my lease from abroad as a secret absentee tenant).  But I quickly realized that would not be practical.

First, with no real end-date of my time in HK, how can I really hang onto a residence? I’d always have the risk of something happening at the apartment while I was the named and liable tenant, including the possibility of run-away subtenants.

Second, shouldn’t it be time for me to let go and change? I mean, isn’t that the whole point?

I came to this realization after a long conversation with my friend Namit, who he himself had let go of everything back in Mumbai almost a year ago to move to NYC.  He helped me come to the conclusion that the more I was holding on, the less I would be able to move onward.  And once I determined that I’d really let go of the apartment (basically decided I’d either let my roommate choose between subletting my room to a permanent new tenant til the lease’s end, or just end the whole thing, breaking my lease come September), I felt a whole new kind of lightness!

So bye bye Chelsea Duplex – you treated me well for 5 years, but when or if I come back to NYC, it will be time for something else – and no one can say what that will be (or when that will be).

Step 2 – My Stuff.  So in prep for leaving, I just imagined I’d have all my stuff packed up and put away in storage at my family’s property, so that whenever it is that I came back, I’d have stuff.  I was telling my older sister over breakfast recently that we’d have to clean up some space for all my stuff, and she asked simply, “How much stuff do you have?”  I began to enumerate it (my bed, two dressers, my desk, etc. etc.), when she rightly pointed out, “but what do you need this Ikea/student furniture for when you get back? You’ll get brand new grown-up stuff when you get back! Why don’t you just sell it??”

My resident bedmate!

My resident bedmate!

I don’t know why I didn’t think of that at all. I mean, let’s face it, with the exception of one of my dressers, nearly all my furniture was purchased shortly after I graduated law school, and yes, came from a variety of low quality/cheap sources.  In fact, I’d recently complained to myself that I was embarrassed to let guests see my bedroom since it looked like a kids’ room (the Spongebob collage I made doesn’t really help)!

But some young, fresh-faced student in NYC is probably going to enjoy what I have more than I, and the small pocket money I make will be useful for side-trips I plan to make from HK.

And again, upon making the realization that it would be better to let go of my earthly possessions here in NYC my step was much much lighter!

There is something very awkward about deciding to make a big change such as this.  You’re at once excited to make everything new, see new things, meet new people, and yet when it comes to letting go of your old life, you are inexplicably hesitant to let it all go.  But what good would a change like this be if you don’t let go??  Upon getting over that hesitation, you really do feel completely uplifted!

So… can I actually move onward with Step 3: My Cell Phone Number and *gulp* My (precious) Gym Membership?  Ok – one thing at a time, people!

*I made this post a “Part I” in anticipation of blogging how things actually go down once I begin to sift through all my crap that I’ve collected over 5 years in one apartment, and what happens when I actually pass it on to someone else!

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