I live in a friendly building. There are nine storeys, two wings and each floor on each wing has just three apartments. I like the mix of old-timers who've lived here 30+ years (who love to tell their stories about the Glenn Gould days) and the more frequent high-turnover young people. I even like the truly strange elevators and the wonkier bits that are inevitable in a building of this vintage.
This week I met somebody new in my laundry room and we were making that polite chitchat you make while trying to shove your clothes in the machine without an errant pair of knickers landing embarrassingly at your feet. When he asked me how long I've lived in the building, I reeled as I answered 7 years. In fact, this September it will be 8 years.
I now find myself somewhere between the old-timers and the high-turnovers. And although I'm not really thinking of moving and I love the building, that somehow makes me panic. I suppose it's not what I envisioned when I moved in. I thought I would buy property of some kind, move in with somebody or just move for the sake of moving.
It alarms me in some ways to think that this building is now the home I've had for the longest in my entire life. My parents never stayed this long in any of my childhood homes. And although I have that strong Cancerian urge to make a home and stay there, something in me twinged at the thought of having been here this long. I wondered if it looked sad to him, if I sounded like a person stuck.
Although I'm one of those people who vigorously defends renting and questions the seemingly unquestioned need to buy, I suddenly saw myself from the worst perspective: A single woman growing old in this quirky apartment building, slowly graduating to becoming one of the old-timers. To be perfectly clear: I do not believe this about myself. It was a passing moment and a cliched kind of thought, embarrassing even to admit.
I do think it's interesting how sometimes we think negative things about ourselves that we don't even believe. That we lock the judgement part of our brain into a paradigm we completely reject. Maybe, it's the parental "shoulding" part of our brain. Or maybe, for those of us not doing the expected things with our lives, it's our projected voice of those more conventional path-followers.
I'm not forcing myself to decide if and when I might move on from my building. I don't think the decision is meaningful in a grand way... I mean, I don't think it really hooks up to anything about my well-being or sense of self. I guess I used to have a constant shoulding momentum in everything I did. But, I've been letting some it just go. It's funny now, when those voices come up how wrong they sound to me. I'm glad to hush them a little.