Please give Dee a warm welcome as she discusses how to . . .
Slay Your Demons
You know how a song can instantly transport you to a certain time or a certain place? Just three notes and you’re back in college on the ratty old sofa in your boyfriend’s apartment. (Well, okay so we won’t go there.) But you know what I mean. It’s sort of an instant time travel device?
Well for me, my things are like that. Knowing where my things belong, where they fit, is important. See, I’ve moved all off my life. Every two years. My dad turned down a commission in the army because my mom didn’t want to move so much. So we think he went out immediately and found a job that meant moving more than the army. I definitely get my passive aggressive tendencies from my father. (But like the sofa, that’s another story.)
What I’m talking about here is demons. Or more specifically slaying them. And my demon is and always will be starting over. In any capacity. Thanks to all those years on the go, I’m a sucker for permanence. And so when I found out recently that we had to move apartments, yet again, suffice it to say that I went ballistic. My poor husband can attest to the fact, and it wasn’t even his fault we had to move. No, this one landed squarely at the foot of our now ex-landlord -- the company who called and wanted to raise our already choke- on-your-dinner-when-you-say-it rent even higher into the realm of heart-stopping-you’ve-got –to-be-kidding rent.
But I digress.
It wasn’t the sudden nature of the move that got to me, it wasn’t even the fact that I’d moved just seven years earlier, half way across the country and the Mason/Dixon line, from a four bedroom house on land with a pool, to a two bedroom apartment with a kitchen the size of a closet and closets the size of a shoebox. (I’m told real New Yorkers store shoes in their ovens and other things in their shoe boxes.) What scared me was the idea that I was going to have to go out there and find another apartment. And not just any apartment – I had to find the apartment – again. Talk about demons.
To be honest we still hadn’t recovered from our last move. I’d just located the Christmas stockings (six months and one Christmas after they were needed, but hey, I’d found them). I couldn’t move. I absolutely under no circumstances could move. And I announced that in the overly dramatic, I’ll-slit-my-wrists-if-you-don’t-agree-to-my-demands way that I’ve perfected over the last fifty years and which no one – including sainted husband – ever listens to. Which meant we now had less than a month to find an apartment and move.
On some level this is probably not a frightening thing. I mean there are most likely people out there who would have thrown up their hands, shrugged philosophically and laughed about how they really needed to clean house anyway.
I am not one of those people.
I make lists. And then I make lists of my lists. I plan. And so I prepared for my apartment hunt as if it were the latest campaign in a lifelong war. I take the idea of slaying demons quite literally. It’s them or me, I figure. And I didn’t watch all those John Wayne movies growing up, for nothing.
But nothing is easy in New York City. Nothing. You’d think that in a city with literally hundreds of apartments on every block it wouldn’t be that hard to find one. Unfortunately you’d be wrong. You see there are always mitigating factors.
In our case, he weighs 45 pounds, resembles a sausage with big ears and barks. His name is Max. At least half of the buildings in New York don’t accept tenants with dogs. Cats, yes. Dogs, no. And then another third, I’d say, of the remaining buildings don’t take dogs that weigh over thirty pounds. I should put Max on a diet – really I should – but no way is he going to lose fifteen pounds. Not going to happen.
Then once you whittle those apartments away, we narrow it further by requiring an elevator and a doorman. I mean a girl has to have standards, right? Now add in a high-school aged child – who needs to be close to her friends (her mother already moved her twice) and her school, and we’ve narrowed the field yet again.
Enter the broker, who shows you things that are too small, too expensive, too -- shudder – dirty, too ornate (you should have seen the French Rocco one), things you don’t want, things you can’t have (because someone rents it five minutes before you’ve seen it), things that are missing major parts – like kitchens or closets… well you get the idea.
And then, after three weeks of looking, you finally find it. An admittedly low floor unit, that despite its height impairment is huge, with – wait for it – a terrace. It’s everything you’ve ever dreamed an apartment in New York City should be. A great building. A dining room (hey I downsized, remember – and I’m southern. I need a dining room). And closets, EIGHT OF THEM.
Okay, I’m hyperventilating trying to get my hand to hold still long enough to sign the lease, and thinking to myself that maybe this moving thing was for the best after all. Only then, because after all this is a cruel city, our broker (yes, you have to have a broker just to rent an apartment – and more credit checks than I ever had buying a house) -- anyway, our broker walks in with a disappointed shake of his head and informs us that the building is going condo.
Okay it’s definitely a plot. I’m not a happy camper. After my husband peels me off the floor, gets me home and sedated, we decide to be really brave and hit the pavement on our own. There are maybe six buildings that meet our criteria in our part of the city that are no fee buildings (read you can do it the old fashioned way – yourself).
Well, I’m incapable of doing much of anything at this point except lift my arm to drain the martini glass. But my husband, bless his little heart, manages to find not one but three options for us. All of which are really great. And so after a couple of days of mulling over the choices (and sobering up from the martinis) I finally make my decision and we go to the building to sign the papers.
Except that, oops, in my sobering up time, the apartment has been rented. Much cursing and unprintable stuff goes on next. Said demon is winning – big time. So I go home and pull out my floor plans and furniture cut-outs (I told you I was anal) and start trying to cram our furniture into one of the other two apartments.
And after much teeth gnashing and a couple of broken pencil tips, I manage to get all the little pieces of paper furniture on the graph paper sized version of the apartment. We call the apartment people again – and set the appointment. This time when I arrive, it’s to the news that the original apartment (the bigger one) is available again. Seems the guy backed out at the last moment (probably buying my condo).
So the moral to the story – and I’m not even going to go into what happened with the actual move – is that perseverance wins the day and vanquishes the demons. I think inertia is the worst thing we can do in times of crisis. Just getting out there and doing something – anything -- seems to be the best offense.
And in my case that’s the only way I managed to be sitting here on my new terrace looking at the most beautiful sunset in Manhattan, surrounded by all my things, each of which reminds me of some moment or time in my life when I was happy, and of course the most important lesson of all – as long as my family is with me – anywhere is home. And based on life so far in New York – there’s no telling where exactly that will be next. But for the time being, we’re here. Living in the moment. Demons vanquished – at least for the time being!
What about you? What are your demons and how do you vanquish them?
---when not collapsed on her terrace bemoaning her latest move, award winning author Dee Davis is at the computer writing. Check out her newest romantic suspense, Desperate Deeds, book three in the A-Tac series. Available now. www.deedavis.com