Monday, March 1, 2021

#60 My Crappy Apartment

In the process of moving to Israel, the school the coordinates our visas, the bank, utilities and housing (among many other things). Housing is on my mind today. We sent a list of our "cannot live without's"--on my list was a balcony and two bedrooms. 

She sent me pictures of the first place and I listened to my gut, saying no thank you. She sent another picture of a two bedroom, ground floor apartment that looked sketchy at best. I said no thank you again.

And then I did something I have done a million times before--I went back. This time is wasn't to a man or the grocery store but to the first apartment. I felt anxiety building as I only had two apartments to look at but didn't like either of them. The same of lie came back....if I don't pick one of these, nothing better will come along. I also felt guilty about not liking the two she sent. Also, and I cannot emphasize this enough, I am not good at saying no or speaking up for myself. 

Long story slightly shorter, I am living in the first apartment. 

New bedding is one of the first changes I made to feel more comfortable in my apartment.

About 37 seconds after the door closed the first day I stepped into it, I burst into tears and kept crying for about a week. Slowly slowly it got better...I bought a bunch of rugs at Ikea, I replaced some of the furniture with new Ikea pieces and eventually my shipment from Abu Dhabi arrived. Immediately I found someone to hang up my artwork and that helped even more.

Yet still it is an old, grimy apartment with office-building tile throughout on a really loud street. For the first 3 months I avoided going to bed because the room felt so icky and I could hear everything through the walls and from the neighbors upstairs. I complained constantly to all who would listen about how crappy this apartment is.

Then something magical happened when I was in Africa over winter break--I'm not sure what but I had a change of attitude.

Why am I grateful for this less-than-ideal apartment?

For one thing, I needed to change my outlook and attitude. This is a spiritual daily practice. I am here and there isn't anything I can do about it today, so there are two choices: accept it and make the best of it or keep complaining and chase people away. I got tired of chasing people away.

The more important reason for my gratitude has come upon me gradually over the last few weeks. It is a tangible reminder of how so many times I create my own misery simply by not speaking up. I let the fear of what people will think of me or the fear of confrontation keep me from asking for what I want or saying no. When I start to complain (internally or externally!) about the apartment, I think to myself, this may be the lesson I came to Israel to learn. I remind myself that me and what I want matters. I deserve better than what I have at times settled for in life. 

It encourages me to speak up about the things right in front of me that need attention, and I'm talking about little things and big things: sending packages on time for birthdays, filing insurance claims right after a visit, making that phone call to the credit card company I've been avoiding, doing the dishes, responding to that uncomfortable text I received.  

The apartment also reminds me to accept life as it is right now with the best possible attitude. This is where I live and it isn't changing any time before June, if I decide to move. I take the apartment as a challenge to look at the good things that are right here, right now; and to care for what I have, myself and the people in my life. 

So for today, I am so grateful for my little apartment in Tel Aviv in a super location super close to friends, which has given me the opportunity to exercise my muscles of speaking up, asking for what I want, fighting for what I know needs to be done, all in an apartment that I cannot forget is paid for by my employer.


  1. I really like what you wrote. I needed to read that today.

    1. This makes me so happy, Lisa! I'm so glad my experience is helpful! Lots of love