After three years of living in eight places, I finally signed a lease two weeks ago on 78th and York. Actually, that’s a lie. It’s really between York and East End but I like to tell myself I’m near York. I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to have a little piece of New York that’s all my own – even if that piece is little (400 square feet?). The apartment search process was very stressful. There’s nothing like spending two outings with a near-stranger who helps you determine where you will live for the next year or so. And then if that wasn’t hard enough, having to fork over about $5,000+ in one afternoon.
But as I sit here in my apartment, surrounded by my things, and more importantly, complete quiet other than my typing, I realize it was all worth it. I never made the effort to buy nice furniture or make my room my own because it always felt temporary – the illegal sublet on St. Mark’s that I assumed I’d be kicked out of at a moment’s notice, the 5th floor walkup with a crazy man living above us who let his tub overflow into our bathroom.. and then of course, countless furnished sublets. For the first time in my life, there is a place for all my stuff – no desperate need to buy a set of drawers or determine how much I can fit under my bed.. It all fits.
So what I really want to talk about is coincidences. And the idea that even though our world seems chaotic, there are patterns and details that draw similar people to similar things. Like that online test that tells you where you should live based on personality traits. Mine said New Jersey.
OR… the fact that the guy who lived in my apartment before me went to Carlton College (you can learn a lot by what mail people get), which happens to be in the same small town as St. Olaf, where my dad and my sister went to school. Was he also drawn to the personality of an older building – or its built in bookshelves? Or even more coincidental, the person who lived in the apartment before him was a Norwegian girl. I know all this thanks to remnant mail and a quick Google search – something I would have never been able to know a decade ago.
So is it all just one weird coincidence, or is there a common background, set of values or visual language that we all share? Me, the girl from New Jersey with a Jewish, Eastern European mother (who happened to grow up a block away from my current apartment). With a father who is predominantly Norwegian from Minnesota. The guy who went to school in Minnesota – possibly from the midwest. And the girl who is actually Norwegian. Or is it all just one big, fat coincidence?