Embracing the world from a beach in Costa Rica. (Photo: Annie Daly)
On Sunday, I am officially moving in with my boyfriend. We are sharing a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn Heights, on one of those cute, tree-lined brownstone blocks that people think of when they think of Brooklyn. I’ll be leaving my third-floor studio apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where I have lived by myself for the past three years. And while I am, of course, excited to move in with my boyfriend and share keys and lives and the responsibility of picking up dirty towels off the floor, I am also very sad to go.
My apartment wasn’t just my apartment. It was my sanctuary. When I first saw it three years ago, I told the owner right then and there that I wanted it, and I quickly ran outside to call my parents and my friends and also sprint to the bank to take out a $500 cash deposit before the guy looking at it after me claimed dibs. (Good thing I did, too, because when I came back panting, filled with excitement and nerves, he said that he would have taken it if I had passed.)
I loved the apartment because it checked all the boxes I’d wanted checked — near Central Park, affordable, convenient, and full of natural light — but mostly because it had this window. A big window, almost floor to ceiling, that was surrounded by trees, which made me feel safe, like nothing could ever be that bad because I lived in a treehouse refuge and all of the busyness of New York City life was so far away, hidden beneath a green safety net.
My window, as seen from my couch. (Photo: Annie Daly)
They say in New York that you are always searching for three things: a relationship, a job, and an apartment. I’m not sure I agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly, because I am also in constant search of the next best coffee shop and a place where I can order a decent glass of red wine — and maybe even olives as well — without having to rationalize my spending. But for the most part, I agree that the search is real.
And that’s why I am so sad to leave this place. When I was 28 years old, I was fired from a job that I’d started just three weeks earlier. It was simply a bad fit — even my old bosses will tell you that — and they wanted to be sure I knew it wasn’t me. I did, but the situation still shook me. Anyone who has ever been fired or laid off knows that it rocks you to your core. I was single at the time, without any prospects minus this one creeper who preferred to communicate over text than in real life, and so all of the sudden, I had no job, and no real dating life. Of the ubiquitous New York “big three,” I had one: my apartment.
I had my wonderful friends and family and my values and myself, of course, but losing a job creates this hole in your mind that even your core can’t fill, at least not right away. I went to bed each night staring at the ceiling, knowing that when I woke up, it would be just me and the ceiling again.
My window, as seen from my “outdoor space,” i.e. the very small, mini rooftop outside my window. (Photo: Annie Daly)
To say my apartment saved me would be overly dramatic, because I always knew, rationally, that this was just a bump in the road and that I would someday joke with my friends over wine about “that time I got fired from that job I cannot even believe I was hired to do.” Which I did, by the way. But still, my apartment made me feel grounded, like even though I didn’t have a place to go in the morning, I was still home and at least I had that, and everything would somehow work out in the end because it always does. And when I decided to freelance rather than look for a new staff job, my apartment also became my office, my place where I picked up the pieces and decided how exactly to go about creating this new, desk-free existence for myself.
Turns out, I created something wonderful. One freelance assignment led to another, and before I knew it, I found myself traveling the world, writing from various beaches and exotic cafés, needing nothing more than a laptop and decent Wi-Fi to earn my living. I spent a month in Costa Rica, a month in Australia, and a week in India, and I also hopped all around the U.S., from Hawaii to Florida to California to Utah. What started out as a plan to freelance while traveling soon organically morphed into a position at Yahoo Travel and a new future as a travel writer.
And amid all of this, I also happened to meet my current boyfriend on a camping trip in upstate New York, someone who came in at the perfect time and quickly gave my new, untethered life even more meaning. It seems counterintuitive to say that an apartment, which by nature does not move, helped me travel the world and figure out my new plan, but it’s true. Knowing that I had this apartment to come home to made it easier to get up and go.
Appreciating my newfound freedom in the Thar Desert in India. (Photo: Rahul Khosla)
One of the best parts about traveling when you live in New York is that when you say you’re from New York, there is never a bad reaction. People give you that knowing nod of approval, like, “Oh, you’ve got it all figured out, don’t you, to be able to live there and yet be here.” And the funny thing is, most of us don’t have it all figured out. At all. But chances are, we all have some version of my window, a little slice of New York that makes it feel like ours, something that makes us feel at home enough to look our fellow globetrotters in the eye and say, “Yeah. It really is pretty great.”
What’s even more comforting is the simple truth that even though your window may not last forever, there will always be new windows in your future. Our new apartment has three of them, and they are all surrounded by trees.
My new rooftop view in Brooklyn Heights. Look at all those trees! (Photo: Annie Daly)