Mike&Sarah

Tag Archive: downsizing

Home!

Home.  A sweet word.  A word which conjures up images, emotions, smells, feels, sounds. It’s word which engages your senses and your memories.  For many people, the word evokes a positive emotional reaction.

For me, “home,” is a place of safety, connection, and contentment.  And I’m finally home.  Fully home.  No more temporary or short-term living.  No more using someone else’s furniture (even if it is really nice furniture!).  I’m home.

Two weeks ago we corralled our belongings from Brooklyn, my mom’s basement, and a dear friend’s garage and after Hurricane Irene, we dropped everything off in our new two-bedroom apartment in West Harlem.  The reunions with my linens, art work, furnishings, books, dishes, cookbooks, made me happy.  Even if it sounds silly, I’ll still say it.  There is no place like home.

I flew to Orlando for about 24 hours and when I returned, Mike had finished the unpacking.  I walked into the apartment and didn’t see a single box.  Instead, I saw my mixer on the counter top, I saw my familiar rug on the floor, Mike’s sofa along the wall, the pillows Mike’s mom helped me sew (and by “help” I mean, she sewed.  What a gifted seamstress!).  I saw the chest of drawers which Mike and I picked out together.  It was the first piece of furniture we bought together. These little touches of Mike and touches of me are what, together, make “us” and make our apartment feel like home.  Combined with the new chair we bought, and the art work we had in Brooklyn, our current apartment feels like us through the 3.5 years we’ve been married.

Yes, it feels like home.  And yes, it’s good to be home.

For Rent

“Location, location, location.” It’s not hard to find an apartment in New York City; it’s hard to find the right one.  We have our criteria listed, ranked and ordered, but a sweet apartment in a less than desirable location can up-end everything.  For example, I loved the newly renovated apartment with views of the Empire State Building, but Mike thought the “up and coming neighborhood” wasn’t up enough, as evidenced by the bevy of young men selling illicit pharmaceuticals out front.

The NYC rental market is a fast-moving game, and you look for a new place 2-4 weeks before you need to move, and in some cases just days before your move-in date.  It’s a brief but all-consuming hunt.

We wake up with apartments on our brains.  Over breakfast we scan Craigslist for new listings.  We talk about our criteria on the way to the subway.  While at work I mentally compare all the apartments we’ve seen.  And then, when work is over, we race all over the City to meet with landlords and no-fee brokers.  It usually takes about an hour to get to the appointment (ride subway, walk, check the map again, walk back).  We wait for up to 30 minutes for someone to unlock the door so we can spend 10 minutes in someone’s filthy apartment (seriously, unless it’s unoccupied, it’s usually filthy), then travel 15-60 minutes to see the next apartment.  All the while I’m praying and asking God for another housing miracle.

Perhaps the process would be slightly less taxing if we were open to using a broker, but we don’t want to pay the usual minimum of one month’s rent as a broker fee, on top of first month rent, security deposit, and the credit check fee to the landlord.  The upfront costs are expensive!

Our top runner right now exceeds my dreams for the interior of the home, but the location is not very desirable, though it is safe.  When we find a potential place, we walk around the neighborhood during the day to check out restaurants, shops, markets and parks, then go back at night to see how the neighborhood changes after the sun sets.  Mike wants to make sure I will feel safe and comfortable walking alone from the subway to our apartment building at night.

Lord willing we’ll have a lease signed within the next two weeks.

Carless

Mike was right. He didn’t think my car would make it out to Colorado and back, so we rented a car for our month-long journey to visit ministry partners and attend our national staff conference in Fort Collins, CO.  My car stayed in Wilmington, De, where after it had a rattle repaired and two new key fobs, the transmission died in front of a firehall while my mom was driving it.

My car is now sitting in a mechanic’s yard in Delaware, waiting for the title exchange, and we are now carless in Brooklyn.  Mike says it feels a little unAmerican to be carless, I think it’s at least anti-suburban.

Hello Greyhound, Hello Amtrak!

Scattered Thoughts

I awoke with a start this morning at 6am, and before my alarm.  The sunlight was already streaming in through the white sheers which cover the two windows (yes, that’s right, two windows in our NYC sublet!) on either side of the bed (and yes, the bedroom is large enough for space on either side of the queen-sized bed!).

We leave tomorrow for an international trip and the to-dos and packing lists are piling up.  Two of those boxes needing to be checked: confirming the length of our hotel stay and confirming our transportation from the international airport to our hotel.

Hours later I finally sent off the emails to take care of those two important details.  I haven’t written my lists down, so they are inefficiently stored in my head.  My stress level over this trip is rising, for packing for a trip when the majority of your belongings are in storage hundreds of miles away is a bit challenging.  While I love our sublet, the life of a subletter is transient, transitory, temporary.  I’m longing for a home and to have access to all of my possessions.

But then I think of Jesus saying how he had no place to lay his head.  I think about what it means to follow Jesus and being willing to give up some expected “comforts.”

Don’t get me wrong, my life is comparatively cushy.  Though we raise our own funds to pay for ministry and personal expenses (well, to pay for EVERYTHING), we live in America, and Americans are far wealthier than most of the people in our world.  I have a roof over my head.  I have a home with working plumbing and electricity.  I pay our bills each month.  We have all kinds of technology. We eat regularly. We lack nothing, really.  And did I mention that I’m getting ready for an international trip?

Sure, I long for the convenience of having all of my shoes under one roof.  And I wish I had access to my favorite books which are stacked in boxes in a friend’s garage.  But I am warm at night, and when I step into the wind during the day, I can clutch my jacket tighter around me. I pass people on the street who are not nearly as blessed materially as I am.  It is humbling.

Somehow I’ve come to assume that convenience and comfort are part of a collection of “rights” that I have as an American and as a Christian.  Where did I get this idea?  Though America may expect more, better, bigger for less money, effort and time, I don’t see that aggressive, demanding, insisting tone in Jesus.  To which “rights” did Jesus cling? Which hardships did He revile?

In my daily Bible reading and blog community, the lead bloggers commented on the differences between Saul and David during Saul’s kingship: how we can choose the way of Saul, short-circuiting God, impatiently demanding our way, forgetting God’s instructions and ways, or we can choose the way of David, patiently waiting for what God has promised, honoring the boundaries He put in our lives, and turning to God when frustrated, disappointed or confused.

It’s not profound, but as I readjust my attitude again to “temporary” living in a sublet, I realize I have a choice.  I can get frustrated and rant and demand the order and organization that I crave.  Or I can thank Jesus.  Thank Him for this reminder that my home awaits me in Heaven; that I was made for a different world; that I have a choice to say “no” to the petulant child within who wants her way right away, and can relax in the here and now; that I can lean on Him and not on my own understanding, knowing that He will provide for my daily bread and my next steps.  Just as He always has.  And always will.

My trials feel taxing to me, though small in reality.  But they provide an opportunity to turn to Jesus as I deal with the less-than-ideal in life.

Need New Budget

“We need a new budget,” Mike said as he reviewed our most recent receipts.  We returned from our neighborhood exploration walk, having stopped for groceries to get us through the next few days and the impending snow storm.

We stopped at one small bodega for milk, a can of soup, hot chocolate and mayo.  That was about $7.00.  But the stop at the next store, for a few pieces of fruit, one green pepper, granola bars, rice and sausage cost us a whooping $50.89.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I just double-checked our receipt.

That means we spent nearly $60.00 on three bags of groceries.  And those bags weren’t full.  Yikes.  Mike is right.  We need a new budget!

Downsizing

Garage sale.  DONE.

Donations to charity.  DONE.

Sell Mike’s car.  DONE.

Yes, you read that right.  We just sold Mike’s car to his brother and sister in law, and his nephews in Wisconsin can’t wait for the car to get home!  Selling that car was just another step in our efforts to downsize before we leave for NYC, but I felt sad for Mike as his car pulled out of the driveway and we waved good bye to his brother, for that car was his dream car.  He was so excited about his sporty little grey two-door Mustang.  We decided to keep my car for a few more months since it’s a 4-door sedan with more trunk space, and therefore more practical for hauling our belongings up and down the east coast over the next few months.

Sniff.  Sometimes you’d rather be sporty than practical.

Chaos

One of my girlfriends is on her way over and I feel some inner tension, though it has nothing to do with her.  She’s coming over to help me sort and pack up the remaining items after our garage sale this weekend.

But I feel a bit exposed.  The house is a wreck.  Mike and I tore it apart looking for more items to purge for the sale.  Now my friend is coming over to help put this “humpty-dumpty back together again” (and I need the help!), but I don’t want her to see  the mess.

It’s one thing to talk about other people’s clutter and chaos, but somehow, when it’s MINE, well, that’s when it feels exposing, humbling, vulnerable.  Ironic, isn’t it?  She’s fully aware of the chaos.  I think she even enjoys making order out of chaos.  She’s choosing to spend her free time with me, in my mess and chaos, to help relieve me of the tension and stress I feel when I think about my house.  It’s at the point where I feel a little stuck.  Her fresh eyes, perspective, and enthusiasm will be helpful.

Time for a deep breath.  Time to let in my friend.  Time to release the chaos.