In 2011 I moved into a bedroom in a Greenpoint loft building. The room didn’t have any windows, but the common area was huge, with a big wall of windows opening to a balcony overlooking lower Manhattan. Eventually I took over the lease, and lived there for 7 years. It saw me through my late 20’s into my mid-30’s, and was my sanctuary for many different phases of my life.
For all the good memories I made in that place, a particularly rough patch left me needing a change of scenery. When I moved to New York I had wanted to experience new places and people. It was mid-spring, I was ready for a change, and I tackled it head on. I put up an add to sublet out my room and set off on a journey to find the next Brooklyn neighborhood I would call home.
Paring down: Williamsburg
The first sublet I moved to didn’t have drawers, so I had to look at all of my things in plain sight every day. The amount of personal items and clothing in my possession was enormous. I was weighed down with decorations and one too many suitcases full of clothes. I had given away as much stuff as I could, but had a hard time parting with that much. All I saw were memories and possible future uses for things. By the end of the 30 days, the room was separated into the “things I use every day” area, and the “stuff I barely touch” area.
Lesson learned: If I haven’t used it in 30 days, I probably don’t need it. If it’s seasonal, it goes into storage!
Open space: Gowanus
The second place I moved to was a gorgeous art studio. In a 500 sq feet white box of a room, my smaller load of belongings still seemed excessive. What I found was that my wardrobe was full of inefficient clothes, items that were falling apart but had no replacement, shoes that could only be worn with one outfit, etc. I was able to donate some more clothes and bought a few new pieces that I could use a bunch and already went with what I owned.
Lesson learned: Buying good quality and versatile clothing items saves space, and donating clothes before they fall apart reduces landfills full of old clothes!
Super loud street level: Bushwick
Moving from a studio back into a room had its perks(like a shower*), but the down side was that the area was very noisy, and the apartment was on the first floor with my windows facing the street. No joke, a dude with a purple van decked out in speakers would set up outside the next door barber shop and blast his music so loud my things would rattle off of the desk. So I started spending most of my days off out of the apartment, packing an efficient bag to walk around the city with. My computer bag, water bottle, and tote with a change of dance clothes went everywhere with me, reminding me of what I didn’t have to carry around all the time.
Lesson learned: Pack a light, efficient everyday bag that won’t hurt to carry around!
Minimalism and creativity: Bed Stuy
The next spot I moved to was through Airbnb for a month, so once again I didn’t have anybody else’s stuff to deal with. Truth be told, I ended up getting a storage unit to stash my furniture, summer clothes, and my infamous shower rig. So this time, unlike with the art studio, I only had a suitcase and gym bag packed with clothes, a couple pairs of shoes, my guitar, bedding, and the office stuff I use every day. Everything fit neatly under the bed or hung in the closet, except for the computer and guitar. The clear open space made it so much easier for me to write and create, and definitely made it easier for me to sleep, unexpectedly.
Lesson learned: Open space leaves room for creating things. I guess those Zen masters were right all along…
In general, I wouldn’t recommend moving four times in six months. It’s expensive to rent transportation, and uprooting so much is exhausting. However, moving myself out of familiar territory helped me reassess what I really needed, and what I had just collected. It helped me shake off a bunch of negative vibes I had been stuck in, and gave me the chance to explore new areas of Brooklyn. I’ve met new people and made so many new friends, but also had the space to be off on my own without anybody bothering me. It helped me focus less on what I had, and more on what I was doing. Undoubtedly, wherever I end up laying down my roots, the lessons I learned in my nomadic life will make my new home that much sweeter.