A local move.
Just before the start of 2023, I moved into a one-bedroom apartment in a rental complex very close to downtown. I love it!
When I moved to Durham last May, I didn’t have a job, and I was anxious to just get going with the next phase of my life. I ended up finding my first apartment via a lesbian/queer dating app called “Lex,” and after a zoom with my future housemates, I signed the lease. I moved down three weeks later. It was a perfect first Durham home. But now, a new chapter is underway, and I want to share some of what I have been enjoying and still figuring out about living in my new place.
One of the things that I was most looking forward to about the new apartment was natural light. I specifically chose a unit that faces due east, and since the lot across the street is a large parking lot of uncertain use, on a sunny morning there is a lot of sun. I leave the blinds partially open, and I find that it makes waking up early extra rewarding. Another benefit is that my plants are happy (I think), and I am in a good position to grow my collection further.
A refrigerator (and freezer) to myself.
One of the things that I was most excited about for this move was to have a whole refrigerator and freezer to myself! Sharing a fridge and freezer affects grocery shopping and cooking, since the volume that you can store at any one time is limited. Also, inevitably what you do have is so stuffed into fridge that you can easily lose track of what you did buy. I had a long time to perfect my way of living the shared kitchen life (ten years), and my solution was to eat a pretty limited number of foods, and to use different combinations of staple ingredients to make easy, but homemade dinners. For example, tortillas + eggs + cheese, quinoa + egg + kale, quinoa + cheese + broccoli, etc.
My vision of life with a whole refrigerator and freezer to myself was that I would up my number of ingredients from three to at least five. But this has yet to pan out. What I had not fully appreciated about my quasi-minimalist cooking scheme, was that it made going to the grocery store really easy, there was no “meal planning.” When I went to the grocery store, I always bought the same thing. This meant that going to the grocery store was essentially relaxing, and something that I could easily do after work as needed. But, if you make different things, you have to buy different ingredients, and you have to plan your grocery shopping. In terms of cooking for just myself, I have cooked new dinner recipes only twice since moving to my new place :-(.
The biggest change to my diet has been that I am eating more green salads! In the past, my main source of “leafy greens” was pre-washed arugula. I would add arugula to mac-and-cheese or eggs to feel like I was eating a vegetable. Now, I have started buying heads of lettuce, and washing and drying them thoroughly myself. Then I can easily make a vinaigrette of mustard, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, ground pepper, and salt. This past week I signed up for a CSA farm share for the summer from the Duke campus farm. The future is surely more salads and vegetable centric meals.
This time last year I did a lot of travel around the country visiting friends. Three out of the four recent weekends, I have had friends visiting me! And I have another friend visiting in two weekends. Spending lots of time building new friendships and connections has made me particularly aware of the joy of “old” friendships. Hosting these friends has not just meant leaning into the security of an extended history, but also exploring new places and sharing favorite spots. Inspired by my guests, I finally went out to a nightlife venue in downtown Durham, and I also returned to the trails along the Eno for the first time since last fall.
Living alone has afforded me a mental peace that had been helpful for personal projects - deleting emails!, creating an album of photos documenting years of outdoor adventures with two friends, re-engaging with a science project from my PhD – next, more writing!