The sort of things we might consider when thinking about where to live…
I get off on tumbling out of a place and into the thick of things – into people and into vehicles and into storefronts full of all of the things I might want or need to go about my day to day life… a place to get a to-go coffee before work; a place to sit and linger over one; a place to get a beer; a place to buy a book; a place to get a good salad; a place to grab a bottle of wine. All within, say, a 4 minute walk. I like an almost overwhelming amount of street-level retail at my disposal.
And there is, of course, an actual overwhelming – a “too much.” This differs for everyone, but I bumped against my own “too much” on Chicago in Chicago, in a place where going about my day made me feel as though I had to walk pressed up against the building; pulled back from the street. The sidewalk did not feel like my own. I could not really touch these things.
Another time, I lived in a place that opened out into “nothing,” where leaving the building meant finding myself standing in a place that felt it was not yet ready to be inhabited. It was starved of energy; thirsting for feet.
At what vibration – what frequency – do you live?
I like to feel the earth. I like to stoop and press my fingertips into it, gauge the weight and texture of it in my hands.
I once heard a high-rise tenant describe the appeal of his 30-something-floor unit as “living against the sky.” Hearing this, I imagined that waking up to that each morning inspires lofty, grandiose ambitions and energy. And I get that.
Later weighing this within the context of my preferences, I suppose I could say that I like to “live against the trees.” I like the first few floors of a building — apart from the first. (Because while I like living against the trees and close to the earth, I do not, however, like living “against the ground.” Something about garden and ground-level units deeply unnerves me.) But apart from the first floor, I do like being low.
I can see the appeal of the high rise, sure. But part of it, for me, can feel too isolated; too far away from the vibration that I love. I like to reach out and run my fingertips along the leaves of trees; I want my palm pressed against their trunks; I want to pull the heat from concrete and brick.
There’s a richness in imperfection. There is a merit in the grit.
I do not like a place that feels “sterile.” Some people do, but they call these places “new” or “clean” or “Class A.” Granite countertops and
oak cherry cabinetry. Stainless steel appliances. Whatever else. You get it.
I like my spaces rough around the edges and a little unkept. I like evidence of tenants past, their markings layered one over the another. I like hardwood floors – who doesn’t? – but I have found that I have a very high tolerance for their imperfections: I root my eye to discolored patches or water damage or grooves where the seams have come undone and the dirt accumulates in little lines. I’m into that.
I have lived in “too large” places.
The largest was a 1,100 sq. ft. open-concept loft. And every day for the year that I lived there, moving through that square footage and trying to accommodate it, I found that I was restless; wandering.
My conscious echoed against the corners, thrashing in the shadows.
There was part of me that could never properly fill it; another part that realized it was never really meant to be filled.
After that place, I lived in a 3-bedroom apartment that had roughly the same square footage, and those proportions felt closer to being right, though my own room was still much larger than I ever needed, with empty, gaping corners I didn’t use.
I “roam” and become anxious in spaces that seem too big. This applies to all spaces, really (restaurants, office spaces, malls, lobbies, etc.) but it is particularly troubling when the space is the one that is supposed to serve as my personal own.
With small spaces, I instead feel as though I can reach out and touch the walls; that I have a footprint on the full floor. I don’t feel as though I am always staring down that behemoth bowl of white rice they deliver to the table at most Chinese restaurants or getting tangled in an unfurled bolt of fabric many yards longer than what I need. Instead, the proportions feel “tidy” and “appropriate.”
The smallest space I’ve lived in, outside of a dorm room, is probably this last one – a 226 sq. ft. studio (barely even a “studio,” really – it’s a room with a bathroom and a fridge just inside the door. No kitchen.) I loved this place. And it could’ve been smaller.
I walk into a space and I either feel it or I don’t. If I feel it, it’s right away. I know before I even walk in if it’s going to work; if it does, I am ready to hand over a check before I’ve even seen the bathrooms or closet space. These things don’t matter nearly as much as that initial feel the space gives you when you walk in.
I walk into places and I either feel compelled to immediately throw a check at them or I feel okay walking away. And that latter part, which is most parts, is the opposite of wanting.
Not everyone knows that.
I try not to kid myself with any guise. I give others the polite pleasantries warranted by the moment, telling them that I’ll “think it over” or that I’m “still looking,” but there’s a big difference between telling them that and telling it to ourselves. Those lines, they are for them. They are not for you or me.
If I can walk away from a place, it isn’t meant to be. If it’s easy for me to walk out of the unit, I try not to linger on the doorstep debating on whether I want to walk back in.
Hold out for delight.