How I Stopped Hating My Apartment (And Maybe Also Myself)

I have been talking about wanting to move to a new apartment for awhile. But I’m not talking about it anymore.

What halted my search was a realization that I cannot afford to move because I have no money.  I know that’s a thing we say with different degrees of veracity— “I have no money” can mean a lot of things, but rarely does it mean a bank account at zero. For me it means that right now I am living paycheck to paycheck and paying off $20,000 in credit card debt. I have no money. Lots and lots of people are in my situation and worse. I’m lucky that in my paycheck-to-paycheck existence, I find room for falafel sandwiches, for drinks, for flowers to bring to dinner parties, for bus tickets to visit friends. There is a great argument to be made that I should cut these things out of my life and put those dollars towards my credit cards. It’s not an argument I’m particularly interested in, so I’m ignoring it, for now. But I will acknowledge that I could have used some of that fun money and food money to save up for moving costs. I have rent each month, but I don’t have rent plus first and last and a security deposit, and I haven’t done a thing to get closer to it.

This has been true everyday that I’ve been searching for apartments, but I’ve kept looking because: It’ll work out somehow. Because: It always works out somehow. It wasn’t until I was home with my parents—watching their cable and eating their food and drinking their drinks and enjoying their air conditioning and their company, happily telling them all about my wonderful life in the great big city except for the small complication of my terrible apartment—that I realized my secret plan all along was for it to work out with their help. I felt sick, disgusted at the thought. 

A long time ago my dad told me, asked me, to please always keep at least emergency health insurance. One, because it was the Right and Grown-up Thing to Do, but also because if anything ever happened to me and I couldn’t pay for it, my parents would do anything to help me. He was asking me not to put him a position of giving up everything, because he would.  I have always known this, because they’ve always made it clear: My parents will do anything for me if I really need it. Would that we all could say that about our families. I will never, ever begrudge my parents their generosity, and I hope they don’t feel like it’s been a mistake. It’s one of the things I value most about them, and not just generosity with money, but generosity with advice, with stories, with jokes and laughs and love. I’ve always had two people on my team, every step of the way. I’ve met enough people and read enough books  to realize how special and rare this is.

If I had to move, my parents would do what they could to help me. If I had to be out of my apartment tomorrow, I could. That is one of the great, great joys and privileges of having a safety net.  It’s a great tragedy that we don’t all have that net. I will not sleep on the streets or go hungry. What a gift to be able to think that, to believe it.

I’ve also realized that with that generosity has always, always come the trust that when I ask, I actually need. That when I cry, I’m actually hurt. I’m learning now—I keep learning, over and over and over—that I’ve never known need, and that I’ve justified so many things by a false definition of it. I trust my parents to help me in an emergency, but they have also trusted me to respect the definition of an emergency, to ask for help not just because I’m unsatisfied, but because I’m feeling unsafe or unwell. And it’s there I’ve failed them, and myself.

I’ve complained a lot about my apartment, and yes, I’ve categorized my wanting to move as a need. I feel unhappy there, I’ve whined. It’s too small, I’ve cried. I think everything would be better somewhere else, I’ve moaned.  But I have never felt unsafe there. It is not infested with mold or, as it turns out, bed bugs. I’ve never felt uneasy walking home from the train, even at night. There are two locked doors between me and the street. The windows are two floors up. My roommates are nice people and when I’ve met their friends, they’ve seemed like nice people, too. Needing to move has never been about actual need. I’ve been dramatic. My mom has told me that when I was little, my demeanor made it impossible to know whether I needed an ice cream cone or an emergency room, a back rub or a full-body cast. I used to laugh at the image of a tiny girl crying cancer over a stubbed toe. But I’m not laughing anymore. That ambiguity of distress has continued, even with myself.

A fat stack of credit card statements proves it. Every charge on my credit card was because I needed it. I couldn’t start living until I furnished my new apartment, I couldn’t start working until I bought a faster computer, I couldn’t interview for this job until I got a professional outfit. I couldn’t possibly go on with the day until I had a latte and a chocolate croissant. Getting rid of my credit cards has put a stop to day-to-day justification of need; there’s no need to justify a purchase that you cannot make. But I haven’t been able to let go of it completely, apparently. I still want to be kind to myself. Only now that I can’t use my credit cards to have it all work out, I’ve fallen back into a place of magical thinking, of expecting someone else to make it all work out for me, maybe even of whining and complaining so that they might. I’m glad I’ve realized this. I’m sad it took me so long.

Last week after a long bus ride to the city, plus two trains and a few-block walk, I climbed up the stairs to my apartment. Nothing had changed, except it was good to be home.

 

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36 Comments / Post A Comment

probs (#296)

Good on you, Logan.

thenotestaken (#542)

Atta girl!!

lrodrigue (#1,315)

U R DOING A GOOD JOB LITTLE MERMAID

Megano! (#124)

Emotions! Mostly happy ones.

aetataureate (#1,310)

IMO this is the healthiest, and most interesting, piece you’ve ever written for the Billfold.

pilcrow (#1,713)

@aetataureate I agree. I appreciate the financial/psychological position Logan is writing from and what it means to the site, but sometimes I’ve felt her posts can be a bit thin (the “cost of logos” post, for example) or just a reiteration of “I want stuff but I’m broke.” But this really shows *why* a site about money needs a writer with no money!

editrickster (#279)

@pilcrow I would just like to point out that as a design professional, I appreciated the cost of logos post.

madrassoup (#929)

This was beautifully written, Logan. Honest and thoughtful and exactly why you bring so much to this site.

glow bug (#1,606)

Thank you for this. With your new attitude, sounds like you’re on a great track to both independence & financial success. Keep it up!

Bill Fostex (#573)

That self-talk cassette is obviously working wonders.

all the feels. ALL OF THEM.

cliuless (#36)

This was beautiful, and I’m grateful that you wrote it because I think this is something I need as well.

Good talk. Can we get a baseball team high fives procession line up in here?

synchronia (#185)

This was wonderful, thank you.

selenana (#673)

This is really good. Go girl.

JitterBug (#1,972)

Great article.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

Adding to the echo chamber: awesome piece. Three cheers for Logan!

wearitcounts (#772)

here to add to the commendations pile; this totally resonated with me.

but also, logan, i think you may just find, since you’ve been so honest with yourself–had a veritable breakthrough moment when you unpacked your baggage and analyzed it, and not only understood your pattern of behavior, but understood that it comes from something deeper and ingrained from day one–you just may find that you will organically work your way toward cutting back on the “fun” or “frivolous” things in favor of investing in yourself and in your future; you’ll want to, because you GET IT. this is awesome.

thecoffeestain (#1,483)

Thank you for writing this piece, Logan. It was lovely to get a look into your experience again. Keep it up and don’t be afraid to post more wonderful essays like this one; it was too rare of a treat indeed!

I often feel that I can relate to your pieces, Logan, but this one in particular! Like everyone else has said, something about it just really resonates.

This is going to sound SUPER cheesy, but, I feel like for those of us out here who are also struggling with debt and perhaps not having made the most sound financial choices in the past, your posts often give me hope. There are other people like me! And as long as you’re optimistically pushing forward and working through complex life, money, and happiness issues, so can I.

ThatJenn (#916)

Awesome. You’re amazing. This is such hard stuff.

minijen (#656)

Definitely one of the best pieces you’ve written, for it’s clarity, honesty and self-insight.

frozenstrawberry (#1,827)

This is so wonderful.

I also have incredibly generous, loving parents, and it is hard for them to understand that when I don’t ask them for money or ask them to buy me things, it’s not a rejection of their love, but my way to thank them for helping me become an independent, responsible adult.

They grew up in a country where children lived at home and were entirely dependent on parents (and the help) to do everything (laundry, cooking, home repairs, etc) until they got married. By letting me leave (to another city, with no marriage in the foreseeable future–eek!), they struggle between being proud of my independence and feeling like they have somehow failed me with their parental duties, when really, they are the best parents ever.

lemons! (#384)

This is big! I realized how invested I’ve become in your personal growth because if I saw you on the street today, I would hug you and buy you an ice cream. I don’t live in NYC so there’s no risk, but still -Holy character growth! Beautiful written too.

allreb (#502)

Is it weird to be proud of a stranger on the internet just from you reading her website? Because I kind of am. Thank you for sharing this piece of your journey, too, Logan.

Sam B (#1,828)

Logan, you’re just great.

jstar (#808)

*applause* :):):)

Pizzahut (#1,485)

That was a great piece. I am dying to know what happened with the bed bugs!

honey cowl (#1,510)

I loved this. LOVED IT.

iffie (#1,911)

Is it okay to keep piling on the love because I loved this. I hate the town I live in and keep talking about relocating and I also have no money and also kept thinking somehow it would just happen. This piece was a great reminder to focus on what I can do right now, try to be content and work out the bigger things when I’m ready.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

So on the one hand, this post makes me so happy for Logan- your growth in this stuff is crazy awesome.

And then, well- I think my parents are going to be helping me with moving soon. And by helping, I mean that my building is being renovated, I need to be out by the end of September, I’m not sticking with my current roommates and I’m really struggling to find a room in an apartment with a kosher kitchen. So today my mom offered to be a guarantor for me to sign a lease on a two bedroom and then I could find a roommate myself, and if that took a month or two and she had to cover the other half of the rent for that time it would be fine with her.

That’s hard to say yes to. And I don’t have a choice about moving, but it’s still really hard to say yes to that.

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

Congratulations on getting to this point!

Blaze (#2,089)

Wow.. are you me? I came to the same conclusion about myself a few years ago, albeit less elegantly than you did :) Keep working towards the future!

I agree with everybody else – what an awesome post. Also I found this really helpful for me because I have also been making noises about moving out and I think I’m going to do like you and just cool it on that and be okay with living at home for a while because there are other things I need to work on as a priority and it’s just not the end of the world.

(even though in the process i’m possibly taking advantage of my parents’ generosity, which is another thing about this post i really relate to … but i think they appreciate having me here, and previously i was really gunning to move out because my grandmother will probably be moving in soon which is going to drive my mom and I bonkers BUT it’s pretty selfish to take advantage of living at home up until something difficult pops up so I’m going to stick it out.)

great post Logan! :D don’t hate yourself! we love you!

I really like the ideas and very intersting to read so much and Please Update and i would love to read more from your site. world population day

I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles.
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