Upon returning to my apartment after recording the Christmas album, I was surprised to find a rent increase notice on the floor of my entryway. I knew it was coming, but I wasn't expecting it until after the new year as I was still in my lease, and I wasn't expecting the increase to be to the tune of $325 more a month. But there it was, in bold and staring at me from the freshly-folded-and-slid-under-my-door paper, signed cheerily by the new building owners.
The universe seemed against me for a moment. It was the holidays! I was just getting control of my finances! I had expressed gratitude about my apartment to my higher power on the daily—the location, the brick facade, the gardens in the back, my neighbors. I had been such a great tenant and person for recognizing my privilege, I deserved this apartment. And surely no anonymous property company would force people to move during the holidays, in a market as cutthroat as it is, in the winter?
The welling of frustration that pounded at my temples reminded me of when I was unemployed, shortly after graduating college. Hundreds of resumes and two unsuccessful interviews into my unemployment, I felt like I was being undeservedly punished. For four years during school, I thanked the universe for my life. I loved my school, I loved my city, I loved my friends, and I knew it wouldn't last forever. I thought expressing my gratitude would safeguard me against anything bad happening ever—a kind of insurance. There must had been a mix up in the universe's Punishment Rolodex. It meant to heave frustration and dead ends and self pity on Nicole Richie, it's just that our names were so similar.
My entire life in the back of a truck.
This feeling gave way when I heard myself think, and when I shifted my perspective. I have no children, no pets, very little furniture (although I had just acquired a bed frame off Craigslist that was being held together with zip ties, so that was going to pose a problem). I was in the best possible position to pick up my life and move it to another part of the city.
I also know now that expressing gratitude is not insurance against bad things or unhappiness. It is a lifestyle that brings you to the present moment and encourages revelry. What this was, right here, was an AFGE—another fucking growth experience. Yet another chance to learn some lessons, apply some tools, practice acceptance. I took what I learned from my unemployment—that gratitude insurance didn't exist and that everything that happens is supposed to happen—and dove headfirst into my apartment search.
Unpacked, unfurled, unwound.