Five months ago, my landlady sold the house where I was renting the top floor. I moved from a large one-bedroom apartment in a neighborhood I loved to a subterranean cave in an area where I still don’t feel at home.
It’s taken some adjusting.
My last apartment was filled with sunlight and views of trees. My new apartment is in a basement at the bottom of three hills (I’m literally as low as it goes in my neighborhood).
My last apartment was a 25-minute bike ride from work. My new one, up until recently, was a 90-minute commute (including a 15-minute walk up the steepest hill).
My last apartment was in a mixed-income area with stores that reflected that. My new one is in a decidedly richer part of town. Tea that cost $4.50 at my old grocery store costs $7.50 at the store at the end of my street.
And, as I discovered shortly after moving in, my new apartment has spiders – lots of them.
So why did I sign the lease?
I took it because from everything I’d heard Toronto’s rental market was insanely competitive, my new place had a dishwasher and ensuite washer and dryer, and, frankly, I felt desperate and rushed.
And this is what it’s often like when you first start dating after an extended break.
One, you make assumptions about what is actually available to you without doing adequate research. Maybe you have a few bad dates and decide all guys are ogres or all women are uptight bores.
Two, you focus solely on the superficial things that you didn’t have in your last relationship (fit abs, a sexy job, or an apartment with an ensuite washer and dryer.)
And three, you feel lonely and desperate so you rush into something that isn’t the best fit for you instead of slowing down, knowing your own value, and taking the time to evaluate if it really is a good fit.
The first month I lived here, I cried every single day.
But about a month ago I discovered four things.
One, this place is downright cozy in the winter. I have a fake fireplace that although somewhat cheesy, also gives my living room a warm glow, and compared to my last place my bedroom is super quiet, meaning I get a great night sleep on most nights.
Two, there is a bus that stops five minutes from my place, up the least steep hill, that takes me to the subway and cuts my commute by half an hour.
Three, there is a discount grocery store with decent prices and selection just a 15-minute walk from the stupid-expensive store at the end of my street.
Four, spiders seem to hibernate in the winter.
When I moved to this apartment, I thought the things in my awareness were my only options.
It took for months for the seasons to change and for me to see the benefits of living beneath the snow line.
It took me four months to slow down, go for a walk, and test my assumptions about that bus up the hill.
It took me four months to think to Google grocery stores in my neighborhood and discover that I wasn’t stuck with the expensive one.
And, it took me four months to stop obsessing about the creepy crawlies and get busy with more enjoyable and productive pursuits.
When I did, and finally looked up, I realized I hadn’t killed in a spider in weeks.
When you’re in the tunnel of transition, it’s easy to assume that now is forever.
If the last three guys you messaged were idiots, surely they are all idiots. If the last two women weren’t into you, there’s no point asking out a third, etcetera.
This is understandable. After all, all you have to go on is your immediate experience.
And it’s just as easy to obsess over things that likely won’t be anywhere as big a deal later (as in “I’m overweight,” or “I don’t have a car,” or “I live in a basement apartment.”)
But what you are forgetting is you are in the tunnel of transition. And once you get through that tunnel, you will be in a whole new world that is going to look a lot different than the world you are in now.
I doubt I will ever fall deeply, madly completely in love with my new apartment.
It’s a step, just as some relationships in your life will be steps for you.
But after five months, I am discovering this place isn’t all that bad.
I’m getting fit walking up all those hills, I’m getting resourceful, and I’m getting braver, so much so that that the things that used to “bug” me are starting to disappear.
But five months ago, as I sat in a subterranean flat, surrounded by boxes, and crying my eyes out between killing spiders, I didn’t know that.
If you’re struggling where you are right now, know this: now is not forever.
Change your approach to where you are right now.
Stop resisting it. Instead, slow down, look around, get curious, and accept that wherever you are has something to teach you.
I didn’t know what was around that corner until I turned that corner.
And neither do you.
I help single women and men in their 30s, 40s, and 50s who are getting back into dating but struggling with meeting people and making genuine connections. If you are tired of being lonely, about to give up on dating, or otherwise frustrated by the state of your love life, contact me for a complimentary 60-minute coaching session.