Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown(-through?)

Fifteen months ago, I began a deep letting go process.

I was very sick, suffering from an unexplained exhaustion that kept me housebound for much of the summer.

Coincidentally, for a year my husband and I had been waiting for a larger apartment in our building to become available. We were happy where we were. We just wanted another bedroom and a larger kitchen.

In the beginning of this “sick summer,” one of these larger apartments became available. It was being sold unlisted, by the owner, who would not price it. “What will you pay for it?” he asked.

And so I began to look around, to see what was in the neighborhood that was comparable, to get an educated idea of the value of the apartment.

And along the way, I began to see possibilities that I had never even let myself imagine for us.

I saw apartments, alright. And some not with just an additional room and larger kitchen.

I saw some with balconies and a gorgeous view of the river! With a seasonal pool!

What?!

For us?

Could we?

Who were we to have such niceness?

It was a real stretch for my husband and I to imagine buying such an apartment.

The move we had been considering before this exploration of what was out there in our ‘hood would have been almost lateral. If we’d gotten that apartment in our building, we’d have basically recreated the apartment we have had these 8 years since marrying. I am pretty sure we’d literally have just brought over everything, just changed the kitchen and added a room.

We’ve both loved the home we made together. Somehow, his furniture and the furniture we brought up from my parents’ houses in Texas after my Dad died three months before our marriage all blended into an eclectic, beautiful style.

We have loved our home.

But I now realize that even before the summer, I had been working towards this letting go, this deep clean, this moving on, this full-on “now” presence in my own adult life.

In January I did a sweep of all my things and let go of a great deal. Yes, I applied as much of the Konmari technique as I could, and it was amazing, and freeing. I even finally went into stuff in storage and let it all go…stuff from my parents’ house I had not been able to deal with or use that had sat there since 2010.

I thought, great! I did it! My therapist and I applauded my actions.

And yet. I was still surrounded by furniture and other things that were my parents’, my mother’s, my grandmother’s. And I could feel the heaviness of it.

And so somehow, unconsciously, this drive to move took over. We daringly made an offer on the apartment with the view. It was accepted.

Uh oh.

This was not a lateral move. It was a stretch up. Way up.

We hired an interior designer to help. What?! Who am I?

(I call him the wedding coordinator I did not let myself have. Brilliant call.)

And I made a Big Decision: We. Would. Get. All. New. Furniture.

All my parents’ stuff? Letting it go! But how?! Some stuff can go to the Salvation Army, but my parents’ stuff?? Most of our furniture I couldn’t bear to give to strangers.

In December, impulsively, my cousin, who loved my parents and has a wonderful wife and two little kids, happened to take a trip up here from Texas for a weekend. I asked if they’d mind looking at our stuff to see if they might want anything down the road.

Miraculously, they agreed to take most of it. They were thrilled! (I was elated!)

Other friends who just happened to be buying new, larger homes who were in need and interested are taking the rest.

It makes me so happy for it to go to people who will use and love it. To not have it sit in storage, unused.

I have kept just one item. An upholstered chair that had been my great grandmother’s, that I had climbed up into as a toddler in my grandma’s house. A chair that my mother had kept. A chair that I have always loved.

We have had it reupholstered and the wood frame repainted. It had to be basically remade. (My husband still thinks it a bit crazy of me.)

I cannot wait to see it with the beautiful new pieces that we chosen for our new home. It gives me a deep joy, and I feel love around it.

We are on the precipice of actually moving in now. We closed on the apartment one year ago. Began renovating it in January.

Most of the process has been relatively smooth: the getting financing, board approval in the new building. The renovation. The decisions. The shopping. The decorating.

Putting our current apartment on the market. Going into contract.

Our current apartment closes next week.

And so here I am, packing and sorting. The move is actualizing now. What has been theory up until now is happening.

I have let go of most things. The rugs/furniture are all spoken for. Most doodads have been given away.

But some I just could not part with yet. Things of my mothers that were in a china cabinet that will now go to my cousin’s.

I have these things in a few small boxes in storage. They won’t be in the new place. I really want to let them go. I just find it so hard to give them to a thrift store. But I am working towards it.

My mother’s china, my cousin wants. Yay! But these other things…

I now realize some part of me is afraid I will wish for them someday. When I am old and alone, won’t I want to be surrounded by proof I lived and was loved?

And deeper yet: if I let these things go, does it make me a bad daughter? Does it mean I loved my parents less?

Am I a bad person if I do not keep the little blue bird figurines my mother collected?

Will she feel forgotten or unappreciated if I just let them go?

Who am afraid it will hurt?

These are difficult questions. There is reconciling to do, which doesn’t happen overnight.

Maybe Konmari can do it swiftly, the way she does.

I am doing the Curry Technique for this final bit. I am in a life/shifting, deep dive excavation of my very soul. I have been living this process that has been 18 months in the making to get here now, on the verge of really letting go of all this physical evidence of my parents and brother, now dead some years.

Of really moving on from these years of grieving. These years of finding a new paradigm. Of finding a new footing in this world without three very key people in it.

It has gotten quite challenging here at the end. We’ve had some new apartment issues. The new wood floor has buckled in places. The central AC’s leaked.

What does it mean? What is it reflecting about our process? The floor is literally the very foundation of our home. The leak? Is it literal tears?

These issues at this point have felt overwhelming. Like the last 6 miles of a marathon.

(I have had fantasies of selling the apartment and all the new stuff in it as is and living out of one suitcase somewhere. Yesterday I had to force myself to drive home. Everything in me wanted to drive away and never return. Seriously.)

Yet here I am. Putting one foot in front of the other. Showing up. Letting go daily.

I am continuing to walk to the edge of this precipice.

Here I am. On the verge.

And soon, in just days, I will leap.

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Requiem for A Dream

This city can swallow you whole

Be alert, my child

Stay connected to those who know you well

To those you love, who love you

It is easy to get lost in the masses

To hid ein the comfort of strangers

To drift, and drift, and drift

Until one day you wake up

And twenty years have passed

And you have no idea

What happened

To your dreams

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: city

Urban Twilight

Neon lights taser early evening shadows of the day

and dance off windows ever-reaching for the sky

Blazing, burnt orange sun makes its slow slide into the Hudson

Pours her liquid sunlight across the city spaces

between buildings, and down crowded streets, across the trafficked avenues

Something electric runs through the veins of life in the streets

The city, she feels more alive, more alight than before

Urban Decay

I felt a flutter

A tiny heart part

A glimmer of the seed of confidence

Growing up through the cracks

Of the broken sidewalk of my soul

I tried to nurture it

Tried to help it grow

Shone sunlight on it’s tendrils

Watered it with tears of relief

But it expired in time

Like a child’s first goldfish

Neglected after excitement’s worn away

And now there’s just grey cracked cement

And hard-packed doubt underneath

Where a sprig of hope used to grow

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word prompt: glimmer

My Shoes Part 2

I felt excited to go out into the world.

Then I dreaded leaving my house.

I gave myself a stern lecture.

Then I sweet talked myself into getting ready.

Then I dreaded like holy hell leaving my house.

So I shoved myself out into the world.

Then I wanted to go home so badly.

Then I was glad to be out in the world.

Then I couldn’t wait to get home again.

I finally got home.

And I felt like I had missed something important.

Going Postal

One of the longest and most satisfying relationships I have had in NYC has been with Phillip, my postal delivery person.

I have lived in NYC since 1987, thirty years the past July. (Wow!)

Since 1995, I’ve had a rental apartment in the West Village, near Bleecker and Christopher Streets.

Over those 22 years, I have gotten to know many of the “lifers” in the building by face. Watched them (and myself) grow older as our stabilized rents slowly rise.

I just know two of them by name, probably only from necessity. My neighbor Orlando, who, in times of unexpected need has helped me over the years in countless ways (and vice versa.) And my super, Sam, who has also helped me greatly in times of need. I have not reciprocated Sam’s help (due to the nature of our relationship,) but I do tip him generously, and I treat him with kindness and respect. I appreciate both of these men.

The neighborhood I live in has changed dramatically over these 22 years. When I moved in, the West Village was iconic: an eclectic, character-filled neighborhood filled with history, grit, spice, color, and diversity. Real New Yorkers lived there. There were grocery stores, corner delis, “Mom and Pop” businesses populating the streets.

Then things started changing in the late ’90s. Many of us blame “Sex and The City” and those damn cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery for the neighborhood’s demise.

Slowly, but surely, high-end fashion stores began taking over leases on Bleecker. Rents started rising, often astronomically. The “Mom and Pops” couldn’t afford them and were pushed out. The people who serviced these businesses with whom I’d developed working relationships disappeared with the neighborhood’s uniqueness.

In the last 17 or so years I’ve seen an ever-changing sea of young people who seem to be fairly affluent come in and out of the landscape of my building. We are now a mainly transitory residential building. The “lifers” have started to die off of move to supportive care.

There are some of us still there, adapting, as we humans do, to the changes in our environment. Holding out, and on, to our apartments.

We grumble about missing the West Village From Before. It had authenticity. It felt alive, pulsing, slightly dangerous, but in a good way.

We curse under our breath at the hordes of people who now walk on the Bleecker of today that looks just like Madison Ave. (At least before the tourists who came were interesting.) Fork out bucks for Starbucks or French coffees and steer clear of the obnoxious lines that still form in front of that damn bakery thanks to food and “Sex and the City” tours.

But one thing has withstood this tsunami of development.

Philip, my mailman.

He initiated our relationship years ago. I’d be out and about running an errand in the ‘hood and hear my name and a friendly hello. There he was. Philip.

I learned his name, and over the years grew to really appreciate him. Not just for his warmth. He always puts the mail in my box in a very organized way: no cramming or stuffing items willy-nilly.

When I go out of town, without me having to do anything, he holds the mail for me, leaving a test item to see when I am back.

He is an excellent mailman who goes above and beyond, and I reward that as best I can at holiday time.

But the best part is running into him in the ‘hood or in the vestibule. Something fills me when I see his welcoming face.

I don’t think I am alone. I sense that we both cherish the personal, familiar connection, the moment of old neighborly warmth, as we navigate the changed waters of our West Village surroundings.

When I hear my name and that “Hello!” or when I see him and call out “Philip! How are you?!” I am flooded with something I can’t quite name.

When I walk away, I feel lighter and happier.

Philip matters to me. I am so grateful I am on his route.

Together, maybe we can keep the spirit of the Old West Village alive, as best we can.

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”

Thank you, Philip, for being not just the greatest postman in the world, but my neighbor.

I need you now more than ever.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: delivery