I don't know if I quite feel like an official Red Bank resident, though I did get a library card and was thrilled to discover so many amazing books, from new releases like the wonderful graphic memoir One Good Egg by Suzy Becker and Jennifer Finney Boylan's latest Stuck in the Middle with You to mysteries galore, plus the librarian unlocked the children's section for me to get me a copy of Tiger Eyes to read before seeing the movie on Friday. It feels like I'm on a movie set of a small town at times, but I welcome it. As I sit typing this in a Manhattan Starbucks, I'm highly aware of no longer being a New Yorker, despite being back and forth a lot the last few weeks, despite my loyalty to my $7 manicure place on First Avenue, despite all the familiarity I've built up since moving to 240 Mercer Street in August 1996. I didn't realize how much I wanted a home. I have lived in apartments or dorms my whole life (save for the first few months at Columbia Presbyterian), and staying in houses actually unsettles me. They're big and make noises and I always think someone could be sneaking in and I wouldn't notice.
My new place wouldn't be considered grand by many people's standards, but as I stepped out of the shower this morning and realized my bathroom is twice the size of the one in my old place, it confirmed for me that to me, it's grand and luxurious and relaxing and perfect. There's actually room to have a place for everything. And I get to share it with someone who doesn't think I'm a disaster, who actually wants to help me sort out the messes I've made of my life rather than judge me for them. I'm not sure I've ever dated anyone who I could say that about. It's scary, to be sure, to be so raw and bare and open, to be forced to basically lay out all your issues and idiosyncrasies and fears and problems on basically a daily basis. Even if they are ones you know you possess, ones you've spent thousands of dollars in therapy deconstructing. I guess part of why I never got to that point before was I was sure the minute I laid myself bare like that the other person would hightail it out of there, as I probably would in a similar situation. So to have the luxury of space and light and wifi and a bed and bathtub and cleanliness and comfort and homeyness and a park and a generally peaceful, quiet home is a gift, a way of counteracting all the ways it feels like things are in disarray. I'm having to learn enforced patience and trying to change new things because there's umpteen things I can't change. I literally have to learn new ways of breathing (hi, asthma!) and thinking and living. So that's how cohabitation is going so far. I still love New York, but realize how badly I treated myself when I was a New Yorker, the nonstop self-sabotage, the way I never could quite catch up. I hope I can forge new, better, healthier ways of living and working and loving now that I have a place I can do so that's solid and secure and stable in ways that are so foreign to me.