I haven’t posted for quite a while. That’s never a good way to begin a blog post, but life has been putting me through the ringer lately, and it took what little energy I had out of me.
For the better part of this year, I’ve known that I needed to find a new apartment when my lease expired. And for the better part of this year, I’ve been looking. And looking, And looking. It has been beyond frustrating. I love Boston. I have from the minute I started living here. But I’ve come to believe that there is no middle class in this city anymore. Rents all over this city have skyrocketed.
And the few affordable places I did find — well, let’s just say that I quickly learned the real estate lingo around here. “Cozy” means the apartment is the size of a closet. “Charming” means it’s a dump (but somehow, the dirt has character.) “Perfect for a grad student” means don’t even think of renting here if you’re over 30. Of course, no one will ever say that outright, because that’s illegal. But you quickly get the picture when you realize that you’re old enough to be the father of everyone in the building.
At least here in Massachusetts, if you’re a high functioning person with a mental illness, landlords can’t use that as a reason not to rent to you (unless you have a criminal record.) But while I’ve become better at hiding my depression when I need to, it has become harder and harder for me to hide my anxiety disorder. Several times, I wondered if people saw that side of me. I wondered if that was the reason I didn’t get the apartment.
I was about to give up. I was seriously considering leaving Boston. That would have meant not only saying goodbye to a city I love, but also saying goodbye to good friends, family–and my network of mental health doctors and support groups. That last one was no small matter. One of the unsung good things about Boston is that if you’re going to have a mental illness, this city is a good place to have it. Some of the best and most respected psychiatric doctors in the world train and practice here. I didn’t want to lose them.
But then I found this place–a tiny apartment in a very nice brownstone. It’s smaller than my old place, but I was prepared for that. As I said before, anything considered anywhere near affordable here is going to be small. But the apartment is bigger than a closet. I can live with that. The neighborhood is beautiful, I’m very close to public transportation (which is good, because I no longer drive), and there are lots of great (and even inexpensive) restaurants around here.
The other residents seem nice, too. They actually say hello to me, which is something of a miracle in a city where lots of people tend to be stand-offish. I don’t know for sure, but I have a feeling that several of them are part of my “tribe.” When you have a mental illness, you get pretty good at picking up on others who have a mental illness. This, so far, is a big plus for me. To quote a popular tune from the musical Rent, I feel like an “us” for once, instead of a “them.”
I also feel like an enormous weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m ready for the change. I’m ready for this new beginning.