March 02, 2011

What I Can't Get Out of My Head

How do you know when something's right? Upon first glance, it may seem right, feel right, look right, sound right, even taste right, but how do you know if it is, in fact, right?

I mean, we humans are sometimes dazzled and distracted by shiny things. We see a pretty face and think it's love. We're willing to sacrifice ourselves for something that seems like a really good idea.

When I was looking for a NYC sublet in August, I almost moved into a 5 bedroom apartment for $1200/month where the main tenant taught drums for a living. In the apartment. At night. All because it was situated in a converted smokehouse (adaptive reuse!) and on one of the nicest blocks of Williamsburg's North Side.

Thank God I came to my senses.

Sometimes, you can trust your first instinct, your gut impulses. When I walked into the building in which I now live - even when I first saw its listing online - I knew it was the one. Then again, I had over 20 other apartments in LA to compare it to.

But in the case of my Astoria apartment, where I camped out for five months, I forced myself to trudge all around the city looking for something that might be better, cheaper, newer, hipper, more conveniently located, include a pet, not include a roommate, etc. And after I did all that, I realized I had to make a decision, and return to the first apartment I saw.

I'm all about taking opportunities as they come my way, but in order to make a decision I was really comfortable with, I had to know what I was missing out on. I had to shop around.

In setting up my new life in LA - furnishing my new apartment, buying a car - I've tried to manage my own impulsiveness in the same way, even if that means hitting dealership after dealership, furniture store after department store after thrift shop, and Target about 17 times. So far. Most of the time, I've chosen nothing. I've spent hours online each night, scrolling through the same thumbnails of curtains and clocks and chairs and pillows and rugs and tables over and over again. I have bookmarked tons of items, added them to my wishlist and emailed links to friends. And then I've waited.

Ultimately, the right choice is eventually revealed to me, because I can't get the image of certain items out of my head. If I can't stop thinking about it, and I can afford it, I should go get it.

While I was car shopping - a rushed endeavor, like my apartment hunt, that I only gave myself two days to accomplish - I couldn't stop thinking about the first dealership I'd visited, Miller Honda in Culver City. Even though I'd visited two other Honda dealerships around LA, had looked at Hondas at various other used car lots, and was told I could not afford a brand new Honda Fit, I returned to Miller Honda at the end of my last car shopping day. I didn't know why I was there. I didn't know what I would be asking Ruben, the salesman who'd impressed me so much the day before, for. I just couldn't get the place out of my mind, so I went back, and told Ruben my story.

Like any good salesman, he assured me that we could work something out, and in a couple of hours, I paid the down payment I asked for and set up the monthly payments I could afford. I left my rental car with them and drove my new car (lease) home.


After all the frogs I've kissed, which is the prince who makes all others pale?

After all the pillows I've squished, which is the one I can't help but bring home?

After all the places I've lived, which is the one that feels most like home, and that I can't wait to get back to? (Hint: it's not New York.)

Sure, for people like my mother, it's easy to become fixated on minor things that don't matter - a spill on the carpet, a stain on the shirt, a rip in the curtains, a germ in the air - but for someone like me, who's a little bit more than distracted by shiny things, and falls too easily in "like," I need to be able to dismiss the passing fancies, or accept them for what they are. Although that may slow me down in the process - 14 years in New York, 35 years of being single - so far, I've done a pretty good job of putting my new life together in Los Angeles on a pretty tight schedule.

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