Countdown to 25: An Update on My Quarter-Life Crisis

Countdown to 25 is my way of taking all of the pressure off myself to write one kickass birthday blog post on October 12, and instead sprinkling my “wisdom” throughout the week.

As I ascended the steps to Apartment 407, it hit me in the worst way. I was moving. Again. That night would be the last night I ever came home from work, pulled into that apartment complex and ascended those stairs. And using the verb “ascended” makes this all sound unnecessarily melodramatic, but “unnecessarily melodramatic” is my life’s subtext.

I’ve moved a few times since graduation, and all of those moves had finality to them. I would be leaving the state. Changing work assignments. Leaving friends who still felt new only to go make newer ones. But, this move didn’t have finality. This move happened while the rest of my life was still charging full speed ahead. This move was a comma; the rest of them were periods.

And because this move was a comma, I underestimated its importance. I spent three consecutive weekends tossing my few worldly possessions into boxes. I took Ikea canvas pictures off the walls. I called Comcast to transfer my cable and internet. I did all of the normal move things yet didn’t think I would experience any of the it’s-so-hard-to-say-goodbye move emotions. But, on that Thursday night, it all sucker-punched me in the stomach.

Apartment 407 was my first home. Not just a place where I napped or binged on Bravo television or squatted. But, it was a home. Before Apartment 407, I always felt like a vagabond, never too emotionally tethered to my living spaces because I knew I would leave them after eight months for a new work rotation. But, Apartment 407 was the first place I leased once all of that moving was done. It was the first place I really made a dent in. It was the first place I lived in long enough to leave ambiguous stains on the carpet and colorful memories in the bedroom. It was the first place where I successfully learned each and every one of Roxy’s hiding spots. It was the first place where I hosted small gatherings and invited my friends to leave good vibes. The first place where I stood in the bathroom for hours, locking the cat out so I could practice spoken word. It was the first place where I got serious about my writing, where I moved from just sitting on the couch to write to sitting up straight at a semi-decent workspace in the dining room. This was the first place where I planted roots.

But, when you are at the mercy of management companies yanking the rent up, sometimes you re-evaluate where you’ve your planted roots. This re-evaluation is also known as “Get the fuck out because you can’t afford a place with vaulted ceilings and a valet trash service.” However, I’d like to think I’m leaving all of my memories from these two years not just to save cash (although that’s the main reason), but also to start building new memories elsewhere. I’d like to think that even though this move is a comma, it means new beginnings in a lot of different ways that I don’t even know about yet.

Everyone I know is dealing with their iteration of the quarter-life crisis. I call friends to wish them a happy birthday and we are all of a sudden pontificating about the trajectory of our lives. I dial a number to interview someone for the blog and we’re trading stories about moves. I Gchat a friend I haven’t talked to in ages and we start chatting about what’s happening with them now that they’ve finished grad school. No matter how trivial anyone believes this so-called quarter-life crisis is, the truth is we are all looking at our lives and wondering what’s next and what the fuck? We’ve made it out of the abyss we fell into right after undergrad, that era when our perfect little collegiate bubbles burst and reality hit us like a sledgehammer. Now, we’re a tiny bit smarter. We have a smidgen of wisdom. We have destroyed ourselves enough now to know that we want to do better, even if we’re not quite sure how.

I knew I wanted to do better. I knew I didn’t want to wince or sweat or cower every time I checked my bank account. I put two and two together enough to know that desire meant getting out of an apartment munching on nearly 40% of my monthly income. I knew that meant trading in vaulted ceilings and a valet trash service for sanity and sleep-filled nights. I have destroyed myself enough. Time to do better.


Has Anyone Ever Really Found an Apartment on Craigslist?

I went to dinner with a friend a few weeks ago and she told me about a friend of hers who landed a great deal for an apartment on U Street. She found the place on Craigslist and while it was one of those sketchy ass listings that didn’t include any photos, it turned out to be a beauty.

I’m in the market for a new apartment once autumn hits. And, after a few skims through Craigslist, I am convinced there is some secret section under “Housing” that only 3% of apartment hunters know about where they find these incredible deals.

Moving is a royal pain in the ass. I’ve done it before, but all of those times were on corporate relocation money, also known as “Just tip the movers and we’ll take care of the rest.” In other words, all of my prior moves happened in some fantasy land in which I no longer reside. There will not be movers–there will be the Wilkins family, a UHaul and aching limbs for a week after.

If it were entirely up to me, I’d stay in my current apartment until it’s time to get married or something. But, my complex jacked the rent up last year and I’m getting tired of looking at my bank account and having the balance read, “What in the entire fuck?” So, I figured I need to downgrade a bit. And, that’s why I started browsing through Craigslist.

movingOf course, I started with the “apts/housing” tab, but all that ever yields is “Must see! One bedroom! $1700.” Oh, go to hell, District of Columbia, in all of your gentrified and overpriced glory.

The other idea is that I could get a roommate. However, I’ve been living alone since I graduated from college and once you live alone, the only person you ever want to potentially consider living with is your future spouse. And, even that cohabitation is questionable. The liberties that come with living alone–blasting music, reciting poetry loudly at 11pm, not closing the door when you use the bathroom and essentially doing whatever you want–are now freedoms on which I’ve come to rely.

Even so, I decided to take a peek into the darker side of Craigslist: “rooms/shared”. And, that was when shit got weird. First of all, half of these places don’t allow pets. Sorry, I’m a package deal. While I’ve never outright told an apartment complex I have a cat (because what the fuck is “pet rent”?), I have also only lived in ones that do allow pets. Just in case a leasing agent busts in on me one afternoon while Roxy is meowing endlessly at the bathroom sink (a nightly occurrence). Hey, you never know.

Under the rooms/shared tab, I also saw a listing requesting a “Professional Indian Desi woman” in which case I am absolutely sure the lister meant to post that under the “personals”. Are you looking for a roommate or a damn wife?

I clicked on listings advertising someone’s basement as a space to rent. At first, those seemed somewhat decent aside from only receiving a tunnel of natural light. But, at least they would be my own space–kind of. Except those listings became strange when I’d scroll through the photos of the space and all of the sudden, a photo of the couple renting out the space would pop up. There they would be all smiley and inviting and I’d have visions of them offering me a cup of coffee laced with arsenic. No, thanks.

Listen. Living should just be free. Or dirt cheap. Someone told me that a one bedroom apartment including utilities goes for about $525 in Oklahoma. But, then of course, you are living in…Oklahoma. Does that state even have paved highways?

Now, I’ve returned to my original apartment-hunting tool– Fortunately, the move is still a few months away, so for now, I’ll drink wine while lamenting my bank account.