I’m the youngest of three. My brother is 11 years my senior and my sister has me by 9. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had three parents. When my sister married (and even before then), I inherited her husband as another parent. They all listened to the plans I had. As I switched from “really like this place” to “maybe this place” but they allowed… rather forced… me to do it on my own. My sister visited my first place with me. I listened to the questions she asked. I looked at the things she looked at. I took mental notes. While I wish she would have just told me where to move into and how much to pay, I knew she wouldn’t. She only does so much for me and at the end told me to do what I think I can afford, although he never quite helped me with a number. My mom on the other hand is no help. Her advice is usually, “Lo que tu crea, mija. Preguntale a tu hermana.” That means “Whatever you think is best. Ask your sister.” Great advice I’ve got here, huh? My brother-in-law on the other hand has always given me the best advice: none. He just tells me what he did. I’m great at following by example. I asked him how he did it. What his first place was like. Knowing someone else story.. someone who thinks like you, is sometimes the best blueprint you can ever get.
Can’t spend another second sittin on my momma’s couch.So if I don’t take a chance I won’t ever get out. Some people talk but never do, they just running they mouths. But I mean just what I say. & I’ma show them out. – Jazmine Sullivan, “Dream Big”
Looking for housing in New York City is a bitch. Most of the living spaces are old buildings with added walls to divide space as much as humanly possible. Basically, in New York, bedrooms are like… really big closets. I viewed this one apartment over on Edgecombe in Harlem where the room was so small, the friend I had brought along couldn’t help but to make jokes like… “Your room is so small, you got to go outside to change your mind.” Yup, it was that small. The room would have been able to fit a twin bed. A full would have made the room tight. “You can get a twin bed,” my friend Tony had said. “Tony, I’m a grown ass woman,” I responded back. “I don’t need a twin bed ever again in my life.”
Sometimes in order to mature, you need to be thrown into situations that force you to respond. While I was looking for places, people would commonly ask, “Why do you want to move out of your sister’s house and pay rent?” That’s equivilant to asking me, Why do you want to grow up? Why do you want freedom and independence? Why on earth would you want to gain maturity and life experience? College ruined me. Well, I mean it made me a better person, but it ruined my taking the easy way out. For a great part of my college career, I lived alone. I made my own rules. I’d come and go as I pleased. I bought my own groceries. I did my own laundry. For four years, I forgot what it was like to have my mother make me dinner. To have food waiting when I came home. While I love my sister and her husband dearly, I’ve got to leave the nest.
My new place isn’t the ultimate ideal. I have a roommate… and not the ideal situation. Thing is, he’s a… he. So he tries to help me out a lot. He offered to help me moved my things in this weekend, but I politley decline his offer as I did anyone else. I could’ve asked my cousins to help me move. or I could have paid the Mexicans at the UHaul place (I’m not being racist… that’s what they were & that’s what they’re there for) but I would much rather handle my business on my own. A cute boy working there kept walking back and forth through the storage area (with nothing to do) and striking up conversation. “You don’t have nobody to help you?” he asked.
“No, I’m all set,” I responded.
“It’d be easier if you had help.”
“Actually it wouldn’t.”
“Oh so you independent, huh?”
“I guess,” I said as I grabbed my dolly and walked away to get another load.
Thing is I planned it all to move by myself. I got up when it was convenient to me. I got my truck when it was convenient for me. I organized the truck in a method convenient for me. I took the amount of time fitting for me. I drove the route that felt the best for me. There was no one passenger seat driving my Uhaul nor any other part of my day for that matter. Sometimes, I think we convince ourselves (especially women) that we need someone else’s help (particularly the help of men). But you really won’t notice how well you do without them until you actually try. If you don’t try to do things on your own, you never find out how much you’re truly capable of. Granted there are something you need assistance with (like the 150 pound dresser my brother-in-law had to help me bring in) but the rest i could do myself. Granted, it might take a little longer, and my body might be sore for a while after, but at the end of the day, I was proud that I had done it all by myself. I wasn’t nervous about what was being moved where. I didn’t have to answer questions about what goes where or how long this will take. I didn’t once have to say “Watch out that will break”(and it always ends up broken, doesn’t it?).
And it didn’t matter that I had no idea where I was going. Or that I ended up driving 32 miles more than what I had expected. Or that I got scared that I was lost before I hit the George Washington Bridge because it was beautiful when I saw it as my official first time driving over it by myself as I yelled at Carl through my ear piece in sheer excitement. Here I was, driving to my shitty new apartment in Harlem but I was glad because I had made the voyage (both literally and figuratively) on my own. This accomplishment was mine.
Sometimes too, when you allow people to help you, they think you need them more than you do. One my first trip from the van to the room, my roommate open the door and tried to help pull some of my bins in. “No! Please! Don’t,” I begged of him. “Let me do it.” I didn’t want him to feel like he was this big strong man and I was think weak little girl. I didn’t want him to get the impression that I need him for anything, because men have a tendency to do that. They think that they are protectors and really this is all just an animal instinct. But the first time you allow yourself to be the weaker mate, you will always be. Granted if/when I find that special guy, I will allow him to be the leader in the relationship… because that’s how I like my men. But all of my guy friends know very well that I assert myself as an equal in all circumstances.
There was a part of me that was frightened about embarking on this stage of my life. There’s comfort in adolescence that is really hard to willingly give up. I put an enthusiastic veil over what was really timorous ambition. Blind determination, honestly. I just want to grow up. I don’t know if I’m ready but I feel like I’ll never find out if I don’t take the steps to test myself. I don’t want to be that girl who lives at home with her mom and can barely pay rent but is out here looking for a “quality man”. I want to be the woman I’m supposed to be.
This growing up shit is scary… but it has to be done.
With that said, here’s what I’m really thinking: My roommate claims he “likes to get the mail” so he hasn’t given me a key. I didn’t say anything then, but I WILL be asking for one. There’s also a card you put money on to do laundry and he wants to share one. NOT happening. Truthfully, I really just needed to give myself a pep-talk so that I don’t punk out. I know you guys will hold me to it!