the next room.

the first washington heights apt
washington heights apartment, circa 2009-10

i lived in the dorms my first two years at school. in a building connected to juilliard, right there in the heart of lincoln center. my first year space was a lofted bed over a desk with a roommate who studied the violin under itzhack perlman, haled from greece, and didn't believe in bull-shit. i adored her. second year brought a slightly larger room and with it a girl who believed she had been maria callas in a previous life...okay.

in my third year i moved off campus. to an apartment in a renovated brown stone on 104th. i'll never forget that space: the light wood floors, my bedroom's two windows on opposing walls, and the rumble of the subway and the deep call of nearby church bells.

oh the sense of space and promise of freedom that apartment afforded!

but third year was hard. and the apartment became home to a sadness that pressed in on my chest--threatened my very breath. so when another apartment--on the same floor, in the same building--opened up and it had a separate kitchen and a more conventional living room, i emptied my hopes into the space.

and we moved. next door.

and i willed that this would be a place in which life would improve.

i remember very little of that next-door apartment. remember very little of my fourth year, really.

after school ended i put my things in storage, visited home for several weeks, and then spent two months living on the top floor of my aunt and uncle's house in montclair. and i started the slow trudge back to  self.  i gave thanks each morning for the worn floors and slanted ceiling and sense of home.

and after just a few months i returned to the city, lived on 80th--the beating heart of the upper west--sandwiched between parks, surrounded by restaurants. and when spring came that year ushering in april's showers i escaped morning after morning to central park where, with not another soul in sight, i imagined myself on a roman holiday, traversing the gardens at the villa borghese.

and then before long, after realizing i had hardly a cent to my name, i moved north. to washington heights--where the rent was low and the A train was long. and i fell in love. and then out of love. and then in love again.

and so the pattern continued, tumbling on, but allowing me to make a home.

and i lived in one apartment now followed by another.

and another year is done. and i'm still here. sitting in my reading chair, window open, staring into the enclosed courtyard dreaming of the move that's just two days away: same apartment, different room.

and oh how i've lusted after that room for a year now! lusted after its two windows and french doors and view of the hudson. dreamt of placing my desk just so that i might wake in the morning, brew my coffee, sit at my workspace, breathe in the water, and set about writing the next great american novel.

you want to know what i've learned--what i've learned from all the different spaces in all the different years: life hardly ever turns out as you thought it might, hoped it would. but it does get better. and failure proves fertile ground for whatever follows.

i don't know what will unfold in this next space. perhaps nothing. perhaps everything.

but i do know this. i'm no longer emptying my hopes into a new space. not casting out a desperate attempt for change. i'm simply moving my things. just down the hall. and looking forward to the stories its walls will tell.