I’m taking another break from my usual cultural pieces to write again about change. As I previously stated change is not something that is usually welcomed but a lot of the time it produces the best in us and the best for us. I think this is one of those times in my life.
Since I last wrote about change the great apartment hunt has begun and concluded. Eventually, I found a very nice two-bedroom apartment on the fifth floor of an older elevator building. It has a nice-sized living room, and the bedrooms are just enough. One of those bedrooms will be my office. Surprisingly there are also two bathrooms. One is a full bath with a tub and shower. The other is a vanity a toilet and a shower stall. There are also plenty of closets so I doubt I will need the storage locker I get in the basement.
The apartment hunt was an emotional roller coaster. I don’t know if any of you are in the market for an apartment but the market for apartments is just as tough as the market for real estate. Since Covid struck the real estate market has been insane. People are buying up houses almost as soon as they hit the market. I have been told that people who were confirmed city dwellers now want to get out of the cities, and folks that were already out of the city are moving further out because of all the city dwellers moving into the suburbs closest to the city. Now I don’t know if that is true, but it does seem that way.
Covid has also affected apartment living. First, if people can’t find homes in the suburbs, they are taking the apartments and I was also told that some folks that have bought homes found that they can’t handle the mortgage and end up in apartments. So there is both a rush on single homes and apartments.
But wait! It gets a bit more complicated, and this is where it affected me. When Covid began to hit hard the Trump administration allowed renters that could not pay their rent to stay in their apartments. It seemed a good idea at the time. Businesses were closed and folks were out of work. Most people can’t save a lot these days, and those who do it usually aren’t saving much. On top of that, the 600 dollars a week benefit was given to workers who lost their jobs during Covid. At 600 a week some were making more than when they worked plus they were getting the standard unemployment benefit on top of that. These things made people reluctant to go back to work and now businesses around the county are looking for workers.
All of this has made apartment owners and management businesses very wary of all folks that come looking for an apartment. For me, there was the added issue of the fact that I needed a handicapped-accessible building due to the neuropathy in my legs. Most buildings were designed 20 to 30 years ago with no thought to the handicapped. These were buildings I needed to look at as the newer buildings that made everything handicapped accessible are charging rent well over 2000 dollars a month. That is way out of my league. All of that to say my choices were few. In fact, in all of Delaware county where I reside, I found only three after looking at several 100 possibilities.
The first was a lovely 3rd-floor one-bedroom apartment with a balcony. The rent seemed reasonable but as we talked more and more to the agent, we found that there were a ton of fees that raised the reasonable amount to unreasonable. The second one I found was attached to the side of a house. I didn’t overly much like the area, but the street seemed quiet, and the apartment was great. This too was a one-bedroom apartment. The living room and bedroom were both very nice sized and it had its own laundry room. It even had its own driveway. The woman that owned the house and the apartment was quite particular about who she wanted in there and a disabled person living on disability was not her idea of a good tenant. She never even let me see the inside. That was all kind of a blow, and I began to get very discouraged about the search.
For a few days, I gave up. I looked at no apartments at all. To me, it seemed that there was just no place that I could find that would work for me and would accept me. Depression set in and I began to wonder if I was going to live my life in a box. After a couple of days of this, I finally decided to look in Swarthmore. Swarthmore is just a few miles from me and is the home of Swarthmore College a very prestigious school so in some ways it’s a college town but not a rowdy college town. My godparents live there and so I have spent a lot of time in Swarthmore but never thought about living there.
It took a little while to find one that seemed as if it might work. It had a great, almost Tolkien name, so I made the call. This one worked out but not without a whole lot of hoops that had to be jumped through. I had to show bank statements to show I could pay the rent. Some apartments want proof of three to twelve months’ rent in the bank before they will even allow you to look at the place. Then a credit score of at least 750 and of course a criminal background check. Hoop after hoop after hoop. It was driving me a little crazy. Eventually, all the Ts were crossed and the Is dotted. I Had a new home.
Of course, that’s just the first part. Now the fun begins. I have friends that are bringing me boxes but this is getting hard. 5 years ago when I first moved I was able to get all the boxes I needed myself. I then boxed up my belongings and took car full after car full to the place I was moving. I only used movers for the big stuff. Now with the neuropathy in my legs and arthritis in my knees, most of that is not possible. I’m walking with a cane now so gathering empty boxes and getting them to the car is difficult. I can pack boxes but, unless they are light I can’t move the box very far. My boxes will be heavy as I have a lot of books.
I hate not being able to do things for myself. This is a huge change for me and it takes a lot of getting used to. It is making me a more humble person and maybe that’s a lesson I need to learn. I am at a stage in life where I truly need help and it’s not wrong to need help. Every time someone helps me I am confident that God in Heaven is happy with them as I am grateful to them. After all, Jesus said, “What you did for the least of these you have done for me.”
This coming Wednesday another change will begin to take place. I go to my doctor’s office to discuss some sort of plan to get this weight off my body. I have my mental health care provider working with me too. I have a feeling I will need to get a bit obsessive-compulsive to achieve what I need to do, but that’s alright. It’s good when a mental issue can be used in your favor.
I make light of the seriousness of my weight situation. I shouldn’t do that. I can’t seem to keep gaining and I don’t want to. Some of it may have to deal with the meds I’m taking but some of it is because I eat when I’m sad and lately I’ve been sad a lot. Covid has taken away many things that I loved deeply. Going to the movies, to theaters and concerts has all become just a little frightening. Covid seems to be everywhere and nowhere. You think you’re safe and then find a friend you had lunch with last week has come down with it. You get tested and hope for the best. So far I have been kept safe from the illness, but none of us are safe from its social effects.
I’m also sad because my life is changing again. I know I’m going to love the new apartment, but I’m going to miss the neighbors that are here. I haven’t gotten to know many of them well, I wasn’t here long enough, but the few that I have gotten to know even a very little I liked and wanted to know more. That time is over now and I regret it.
I’m sad too because I will be leaving behind the area I grew up in. I still love this area. Knowing the stores and the people that run them. Having three supermarkets just blocks from each other and knowing almost for sure that I will be able to find almost anything I need in my own backyard. I won’t have that backyard anymore and it’s sad.
I don’t like saying goodbye. I never have. Saying goodbye always seems so permanent. You make plans to see friends that you’ve left and you promise to keep in touch but that rarely happens and when you do finally see each other again the time has passed and people changed and the bond that was there can be very hard to find again.
Now, I have some friends that this will never happen. Manny J, Jim R, Kevin S, Eric K, Tim G, Mary R, Brad F, and Saundra F, Tammy D, Jeff B, Carrie O, Nick R.and others when we pick up the phone it’s like we just saw each other yesterday. Most of these people don’t live nearby so it is our hearts that bind us together and keep the relationship alive. I love these folks a lot and am very grateful they are in my life.
GRATEFUL! It just struck me. The best way to manage change is to be grateful for the change. Grateful for a new apartment and the chance to meet new neighbors and have new experiences. Grateful for the people we have known and are no longer part of our lives but their influence still lingers. Grateful for the folks we have lost either thru death or other ways that people grow apart. Those people added depth and color to our lives and so whether they are here or not they are part of us.
This is the month for gratefulness. That gratefulness can be shown first to God and then to all the people in our lives that brought something special. And, you know, there isn’t one person in our lives that didn’t bring something special. There is not one event in our lives good or bad that didn’t have a purpose or a meaning. Everything in our lives we designed by God to show us he is here and he loves us and so for that alone change has to mean being grateful.
Life is change. Sometimes it’s painful and sometimes it’s beautiful, but most of the time it’s both.
- Lana Lang Smallville