7.5

7.5

This time last week, I had no idea where I would be living today. My sublet was ending on Friday and I had known that for over a month and had been searching for the next place for just as long but… nothing. Nothing had come together. So I had booked a mover with only half helpful information – a pick up address with the drop off location still TBD. Awkward. So awkward. And frustrating. And annoying.  AKA: So very New York. And I’m not gonna lie – it was hard. Emotionally more than anything else. Moves are usually stressful due to finances, but thanks to my job, my side hustles and tax season, money wasn’t even an issue. What was a very real issue was the feeling of not just being uprooted, but feeling completely un-rooted. And being stuck in this cycle of not really belonging anywhere. Or to anyone.

Moving in New York is nothing new to me. I just did the math and since arriving 90 months ago (in October of 2009), I have moved 12 times. That’s an average of once every 7.5 months. Can you imagine that? At some point every year (twice in the really good ones!) packing up everything you own and moving it someplace else. It is exactly as fun as it sounds. And absolutely exhausting. And I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I moved on Friday night and by Sunday evening, I had every box unpacked. “Seriously?!” One of my friends was shocked (and I imagine, mad impressed.) “It took me 6 months to get to the last box!” Which isn’t unusual at all, but the way my vagrancy is set up, I just can’t afford to wait 6 months to unpack a box I’ll be repacking in 7. So if there’s something I can leave boxed up for 6 months, it’s something that I can leave behind. And I do. Not just when I move, but in day-to-day life, I’ve gotten really good at realizing that things are just things. And letting go of them. Because it’s all just stuff. And whether it’s something I bought or something that was given to me – if I got it once, I can get it again. Bad days and general annoyances aside, my life is on an incline, it’s getting bigger, better, stronger all the time. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I was and to be afraid to let go of something because it’s the best I’ve ever had and “what if I never get it again??” is to be afraid that this is as good as it gets and that God has done all He can. But I know that isn’t true.

And that’s what I had to remind myself of in the moments when I just wanted to walk away from everything. Those moments when everything about the situation was screaming how much I didn’t matter, didn’t belong and didn’t have anything to show for all the years here. And honestly… there were some moments when if a door had opened someplace far far away, I would have thrown my cat in his carrier and run through it. But NOTHING was opening up. Except in Brooklyn. And I never got that desperate.

Ask anyone who knows me how I feel about Brooklyn and they’ll probably tell you I hate it. In fact, you can ask around and even people who don’t really know me can probably tell you two things: I love cats and I hate Brooklyn.  They are well-worn facts from the folktales oft told about Jani The Cat. But are they true facts? Well… they are like Lifetime movies: based on real events, but exaggerated for entertainment value. I don’t have any real issue with Brooklyn. I just don’t have any use for it. I feel about Brooklyn exactly the same way I feel about the artwork on the wall across from my desk at work – it’s there but who cares? And what most people don’t know is that once upon a time, I almost moved to Brooklyn. I actually got selected in one of those housing lotteries and was thisclose to moving into a brand new building in the Crown Heights area when the subject of pets came up at the lease signing. And being the crazy cat lady that (anyone can tell you) I am, I had to turn down the keys to that brand-new-elevator-with-laundry-in-the-basement apartment.

But because we had already gone through all the paperwork the management office asked if we might be interested in living in another other building they had. In Washington Heights. And that was how I ended up living (and loving!) uptown. Which is where I ended up building a connect group. And building friendships. And a life. And I know it’s different for everyone, but for me… I just have a conviction that uptown is where I’m supposed to be. So even with the clock running out and the possibility of being homeless skyrocketing, I would see ad after ad featuring open spots in Brooklyn, and I never even considered it. And no one ever suggested it. Not seriously.

Which is crazy, right??

You’re literally days away from have NOWHERE  TO LIVE and you won’t even consider putting your crazy conviction aside.  Well… I’m also on the edge of NEVER MAKING IT, but still can’t quiet this conviction to keep writing. And I’m definitely within spitting distance of being SINGLE FOREVER but still can’t shake the conviction that there is someone great for me.

So this move, was a different test of faith from the million before it. It was a trial by fire of believing a particular area is where you’re supposed to be and waiting, against all reason, for a door to open. And you know what? A door did open. This time a week ago. I set up an appointment to go view a room that had just popped up on Gypsy housing. It was a little more than I wanted to pay for another roommate situation, but the pictures looked pretty nice and desperate times, right? So I went. And I met the new potential roommate. And I thought, “Yeah, okay. This could be good.” And I was pretty sure that it was going to work out, but I didn’t want to say anything until the sublease was signed and the deposit was in. And that didn’t happen until Thursday evening. So I didn’t know for sure for sure until the day before I was moving.

And it wasn’t until the day after I moved that it hit me what an amazing door I had walked through. In the borough/area I love. In the best building/apartment I have lived in so far. Cat-friendly. With an elevator. Laundry in the basement. In a spacious bedroom. With two windows. And two amazing views of the Hudson River, GWB and New Jersey.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…

It is an Ephesians 3:20 kind of situation through and through. And it’s a new touchstone to remind me (and hopefully a testimony to encourage you) that you’re right where you’re supposed to be AND right about where you’re supposed to be. And what is for you, is for you and the clock may be ticking, but it’s actually on your side because it’s counting down to the open door that is just for you.

(And yes: 7.5 months from now, this sublet will be over and I’ll be moving on again, but I’ve already decided that I’ll be buying. And I’m already looking forward to seeing what “better than I can ask or imagine” is going to look like in that situation/process.)

Paperwork

Paperwork

Right around this time last week, 4 out of 5 people on my Facebook feed were posting and sharing this song. And rightfully so. It’s legit. Even I posted it. And I generally shun doing anything that everyone else is doing. I’d say I’m a rebel, but too many other people already have so… #itsdeadtome

Anyway, I had that song on repeat all day at work. And at one point, I was sitting there at my desk with tears in my eyes. Not because I was moved by the beauty of the song, but because everything about my life at that moment was so opposite to touching the sky. Far from soaring or dancing on the wings of anything, I was going through boxes and boxes and boxes of paperwork for one of the company heads. And if there is one thing that I hate, it’s paperwork. And the only thing worse than paperwork? Is somebody else’s paperwork. So I was miserable.

But there I was. And I realized that moment was basically a summary of most of my life. I have all these high hopes, dreams and beliefs and they are great and they are encouraging and they lift me, but most of my life? Honestly… it just looks like paperwork. It’s boring. It’s mundane. I don’t even know why most of it is happening. And it feels so far from everything I’d rather be doing.

But it’s happening. So it’s gotta mean something. Or be worth something. Or be building something in me that means something or is worth something. Right??

I certainly hope so. Because yesterday I had a moment. A friend of mine texted me with some great news. An awesome door is opening for her. A door that I pointed her towards. Which I don’t say to take any credit for, I only mention it to highlight how stilted my life sometimes seems. People are walking through new doors all around me and meanwhile, I feel like I’m forever outside and forever knocking. Forever filing paperwork. Forever given the jobs that no one else wants to do. Never asked to do what I want to do or what I’m good at… except… that’s not 100% true.

Because I am good at paperwork.

A few hours after shedding those workday tears, I was adding the printed labels to the stupid folders I had just spent all day organizing and filing. And I felt… pleased. Proud even. I would never have asked for that task, but I finished it. And I finished it well. And when looked at in the right light, that’s actually a good sign for my future, even if it looks like it’s going nowhere fast.

I think back to the parable of the talents in the Bible (Matthew 25:14-30), the short version is that three servants are given a certain amount of things to handle for their boss – one gets 5, one gets 2 and one gets 1. The boss goes away and then comes back at some point and has a debrief with each of them. The first two servants doubled what they were given, but the third servant has nothing more to show for the time that has passed. So the boss gives the first two more and but takes the little from the last servant. Whomp whomp. Anyway, because of the use of the word “talents” it’s really easy to romanticize this story and imagine that each of the servants was given something good or that they liked to start with. But what if it was all just paperwork and filing?

What if it was all something  that they could do (obviously), but wouldn’t typically choose to do? What if there were other things they would have much rather been given?  It makes it a lot easier to understand why that last servant flamed out so spectacularly. And how easy it would be for me to do the same. To look at what I’ve been given and do just enough to maintain it, but invest nothing of myself and add nothing to it. Saving all my energy for when the door to something I really want to do opens. When what I should be doing is using what’s being given to me now to build up my stamina, strength and resolve for whatever is on the other side.

For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance.”

So note to self: Whatever you have now – whatever time, whatever relationships, whatever tasks, whatever paperwork – even if it’s nothing you would have chosen, it’s something you’ve been given.  Not to keep you from what you really want, but to build and strengthen you for something more. 

So play that song a million times more and cry if you need to, but don’t stop filing. Get that paperwork done.