Today’s posted inspiration has a story behind it– a story that’s so serendipitous it’s almost scary, and that’s too good not to share.
It was the Spring of 2008. I was working as a lawyer at a big Wall Street law firm, and I’d fallen in love.
Not with a person (although that did happen later), but with a place.
The summer before, a friend of mine had been in a big transition out of a relationship, and she’d taken up a short residence in a sublet in the West Village of Manhattan that was nothing short of perfect.
It was one of those old garretted apartments at the top of an 19th century brownstone, with a roof of glass and a bedroom that felt like it was up in the sky. It was the apartment I’d always imagined I’d live in when I moved to New York when I imagined my life there as a little girl.
And the night I visited my friend, a rainstorm beat down on that glass ceiling, and it became one of the most magical places on earth.
That building remains among the most extraordinary spaces I’ve ever been in here in New York.
And once I’d been there, it kept calling to me.
It was strange how the brownstone did that. Over and over again, for nearly a year, I felt its pull. And after a while, the pull became so strong that I realized that I was meant to live in that building, somehow, some way.
Obsessively, I researched its history, its architect, its former residents. I found out that it had been in the same family since 1852, and that its former residents included the original founders of the Waverly Inn, a famous communist author, and numerous well-known artists. I even learned that it was constructed over an old stream that was a source of water for the entire city.
That brownstone spoke to me so powerfully that I came to wonder whether I might have even lived there in another life.
Over and over again, it returned to me. And when the lease on my highrise apartment downtown came up for renewal that Spring, all I could think about was that brownstone.
I knew that the apartments there were pricey– probably too pricey for me to afford. And I had no idea whether there were any apartments available in the brownstone, and didn’t even know how to find out.
I resigned myself to staying put where I was. I even went so far as to get the lease renewal written up by my current landlord.
And yet still the brownstone called to me. It was located in my favorite neighborhood in the city, with my favorite restaurants and bars, which also happened to be the place where this hot bartender that I had a crush on was living at the time. I was in that neck of the woods every weekend, sometimes both days.
And so one Saturday afternoon, a few days before I was to sign my lease renewal and after a few glasses of wine at lunch with a friend, I decided to wander by the brownstone on the outside chance that I could talk to a resident on their way out, and find out if any apartments were coming up for rent.
What happened next blew my mind.
I walked up to the address, and there was a moving van right outside.
And when I asked the movers who was moving out, it turned out that the tenant of that very apartment I had visited the year before was breaking his lease and moving out that same day.
I asked if I could go up and look at the apartment. The movers replied, I don’t see why not.
And when I climbed the four flights to that garrett, it was as magical as I remembered, but empty save some moving supplies, and a few scraps of paper tacked up on the wall.
I looked at those scraps of tacked up paper, and literally started to shake when I saw what was written on one of the ones that remained. It was this:
Many a false step was made by standing still.
If ever there was a clearer sign that I was in the right place at the right time, and that there was no option but to MOVE (both in terms of home and in terms of life) that was it.
I snatched that piece of paper off the wall, tucked it in my pocket, and took it with me.
It meant so much to me that I later had it framed. The real life version of it is in the photo attached to this post.
Two months later I moved into that brownstone.
And on the night I signed the new lease, I sent a text to that hot bartender who lived up the block telling him we were about to be neighbors. He happened to be off that night, and invited me out for a drink.
Eight months later, he moved into that brownstone with me. Nine months after that, we got married.
And though we didn’t stay in that apartment for long– other places called, and that apartment was indeed quite pricey– it remains the place that I was the happiest I have ever been in my life.
So what’s the message behind this story? There are two.
The first is that life is full of signs, both in the form of your intuition and in the form of literal messages from the Universe. Pay very close attention to both. When you are in tune with the constant discussion that’s in play between you and your world, you cannot be steered wrong. Ever.
The second is that sometimes standing still is a worse choice than moving forward, no matter what the risk. Yes, I couldn’t really afford that move when I made it. Yes, that apartment remains the most expensive apartment I’ve ever lived in. Do I regret living there, making that move, or following all the signs that led me there in any way? Absolutely not. Not for a minute. Not for a second. I regret not a single penny of the cost.
And in case you’re wondering what’s below that piece of paper in the framed picture above, it is an excerpt from a column in the New York Times that appeared the same month I wandered into that brownstone. It reads as follows:
“Maybe this is what we get in life, a few great loves: loves that return us to ourselves when we need it most. And maybe some of those loves aren’t people, but places– real and adopted homes– that fill us up with light and energy and hope at moments when we feel especially tired or lost. That is the beauty of love in all its forms. We don’t know when or how it is going to save us.”
Tune in to the magic of life in all its forms this week. Let what’s in store for you lead the way. And move forward, proudly, toward what awaits.
All the best,
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