Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about From a House to a Studio Apartment and Remembering that Feeling.
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Hello and welcome to episode #94 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about From a House to a Studio Apartment and Remembering That Feeling.
From a House to a Studio Apartment
I never dreamed or planned it, but the day came when I bought my own house after getting a divorce. It was exciting! I was thrilled to pick my own furniture without compromising. My bedroom dresser, bureau, and two bedside piers were all smoothly-sanded solid oak. My kitchen table was solid oak, too. It was just the right size for the area I had, and it had the feature to extend it should I have more than four people sitting at the table. I loved the back and bottom cushiony fabric chairs with oak armrests and rolling legs. I had wanted this dining set for a while. My desk and entertainment center were also solid oak. I was obviously all into solid oak furniture. I also got cushiony ivory leather sofas: a three-seater, two-seater, single-seater, and an ottoman to stretch my legs. I furnished my new home with all the furniture I liked. It was like tasting freedom; I had the choice to have whatever I wanted in this house of mine.
I planned to stay in this house for a long time and possibly have my future husband move in, so I had a three-bedroom, 2-car garage, three bathrooms, a den, living room, kitchen, nook, and a backyard.
As it turned out, my boyfriend and I never got married, but I ended up living in the house for ten years. My friends who didn’t have a house of their own were proud of my accomplishment, and I suppose I was too until I had to sell my house because I went out of business and was on the verge of bankruptcy.
My house became a burden. I decided to move abroad and sell what I could. As I looked at all my belongings, I saw all my hard work to acquire them was going to be gone. They were to be donated, sold, or tossed. The accumulation of things was so many, and I didn’t need them all. Did I buy all these things thinking they would make me comfortable or happy? Had I become materialistic? Had I wanted to look good to others? Did I want to show my accomplishments through my material possessions? Or did I fill it with what I thought should go in it? I think it was doing what I thought I should to fill it. Still, why did I have so many things? It was too much to deal with!
With too many things to sort through, I was overwhelmed. I questioned the existence and usefulness of each item. And then I questioned my judgment in buying them. It was emotionally draining to analyze and decide what to do with everything. Worse, for everything that was donated, sold, or tossed, it felt like they were things taken away from me. It was like getting stripped and feeling nude. The gradual and uncomfortable separation from them made me feel naked. And it was like throwing all my money in the garbage. It hurt!
Eventually, all that needed to be done was done.
I moved abroad into a studio apartment. Going from a house to a studio was like getting demoted and downgraded. I went from a middle-class status to someone like a fresh college graduate just starting out. I was ashamed. I had worked hard to have a career, a business, a house, and other things, but now I had nothing. I lost everything. What had become of my life?
Aside from the shame and the loss of many possessions, some surprising feelings and realizations came about as a result of less worldly possessions. Somehow, with fewer material goods, I felt lighter and freer. I had fewer responsibilities weighing me down, and I had fewer worries. For instance, I no longer had a car to maintain or car insurance to pay. I no longer had a big house to vacuum and mop. I even have fewer clothes to wash!
Having a studio apartment with fewer things and chores led to a naturally carefree life with more time to play and do the things I wanted.
Though having a house felt like a great accomplishment and comfort, it became a burden with all the upkeep and expenses. Though I thought moving into a studio apartment was shameful, it became a place of little maintenance and solace.
Moving from a house to a studio changed my perceptions. My negative feelings and thoughts shifted into positive feelings and thoughts! Today I voluntarily spend much time in my studio apartment because I enjoy its serenity. I spend little time on chores because that is all that is needed. I have only a few things to upkeep. So, I spend most of my time enjoying my passions and hobbies.
With fewer possessions, there is less clutter and cleanup in my life. With less square footage, there is less cleaning and upkeep. The open space and fewer doors leave me with a spacious feeling. The sky-blue walls leave me floating in the sky with a calm feeling. This simpler life gives me more time to sing, dance, write, and do whatever I wish.
Who could have guessed that I could move from feeling ashamed because I lost my house to feeling carefree and worry-free because I now live in a studio apartment on an island?!
Clearly, happiness is not found in possessions but in freedom, simplicity, and having free time to spend as I wish!
Remembering That Feeling
I was not in a good place. It was April 2020, and I had already shipped most of my belongings by sea mail. I was running out of money and had not had an income for a year already. The plan was to move abroad on the first of June with a job available to me upon arrival, but the Covid-19 pandemic threw all my plans into chaos. However, there was a little sunshine in the midst.
My life was in limbo; I didn't know when the travel ban would be lifted. I was jobless and had minimal things left in my apartment. With nothing to do, I decided to make new friends and practice a foreign language to prepare for my move abroad. Searching on a website, I found many language exchange partners and had someone to talk to daily. It was fun to make new friends before arriving at my new home.
One particular language exchange partner stood out for me. His name is Everett. He was very consistent and punctual in calling me twice a week. Punctuality is important to me, and I love punctual people. It was comforting when there was much uncertainty going on in the world.
Everett was always well-prepared for our conversations with a list of topics and questions, so we never ran out of things to talk about with each other. He was a planner, and so was I. I appreciated the effort he put into our conversations.
By the sixth week of our conversations, he began to finish a couple of my sentences, and I could do the same for him. It was exciting that someone could know or see through me and know my thoughts. It was also scary at the same time because it felt like he had known me in only six weeks, and we hadn't even met yet. Maybe I was beginning to fall in love with him because he began to finish my sentences, and I could finish his, too! It was like two hearts meeting and recognizing each other.
Also, on the sixth call, he asked what my impressions of him were; I was shocked that he asked. Even more surprising was that he deemed most of my thoughts accurate. I don't claim to read people very well and was nervous to answer, but luckily, I was right! With hesitation, I asked him for his impressions of me, and he was also on point. It was like two minds and souls meeting each other.
Trying to sell off my refrigerator and car for a reasonable price was not easy. Then it was time for my scheduled call with Everett. There was a fifteen-hour time difference, so the timing was crucial. Anyway, he said the usual "Hi, how are you" when he called. I said, "Okay," but he heard in my voice or tone that I was not okay. He immediately asked what the matter was. He sensed my feelings, and it touched me. I began to feel him closer to me. Perhaps I was starting to fall for him.
After telling him about my fifteen-year-old car that I needed to sell, he deduced that I took good care of my things and was not a careless spender; he was right. It made me feel good; he made me value myself more.
In three consecutive phone calls, he asked how I could sustain five years in the sales industry when I got so many rejections. By the third conversation about it, I said I was all talked out and didn't have any more to say. I even told him I didn't enjoy being reminded of my greatest failure and didn't want to talk about it anymore. To my surprise, he said he was asking because my tenacity and resilience inspired him. His statements made me acknowledge some of my strengths for the first time. He made me appreciate myself more. Okay, I am beginning to swoon over him. He is so perceptive.
Still waiting for the pandemic to be over or when I could overcome the travel ban to move abroad, I moved to my friend Selina's house in San Francisco because I could no longer afford to pay my rent. Since Golden Gate Park was a few minutes from Selina's house, I started a new routine by taking an hour's walk in the park several times a week.
It was now early July 2020, and the mornings in San Francisco at 8 AM were sunny with crisp and cool air. For me, it was the perfect weather for walks in the park. I enjoyed seeing the many green trees and feeling the gentle breezes. All this was like a treasure amid a pandemic.
As I was walking in the park one Sunday morning, a friend I met while traveling in Asia months before the pandemic called me. We chatted about what we had been doing the last few months. I shared about Everett, a language partner I started connecting with in early May. We had been talking on the phone four hours a week for over two months. With that much talking, we got to know each other pretty well.
As I spoke about Everett with Paige, she said, "You are in love." I protested, "No, I can't be; I haven't even met him in person yet." She insisted, "You are in love!" I protested again, "No, I can't be!" Suddenly, I noticed tingling body sensations, and my face couldn't stop smiling. I was tickled with joy, like a teenager in love for the first time. I couldn't believe what I was feeling. In a moment, I realized it was a feeling and an experience I recognized. I said to Paige, "Oh my gosh, the last time I had this feeling was when I fell in love for the very first time as a teenager! I can't believe it! I have had a number of other boyfriends in between but never had this particular sensation with them."
Paige responded, "You are so lucky to fall madly in love two times in your life! I haven't even had it once." At the next moment, I felt sad for Paige. She was engaged, getting married soon, and she was not madly in love with her fiancé. She was going through the motions of getting married because of parental expectations and because she was thirty-something. Suddenly I felt lucky that I could be genuinely in love two times in my life!
My first boyfriend always had a special place in my heart because he was my best friend; he knew me better than anyone. No one after him seemed to measure up. Though we had good and bad times, it is strange that I only carry the good times in my memories of him. With other boyfriends, I'd remember the bad times! Keith was undoubtedly unique because he unlocked the key to my heart. I remember the many phone conversations with him where I tingled and smiled incessantly. He'd ask many questions about me, flirt with me, help me solve many problems, and comfort me. He understood me. Knowing that someone in the world understood me was everything to me. Even now, I can comfort myself that I know there is still him in this world who is still the one and only who understands me best. Decades later, I still smile when I think of that love of so long ago.
All of a sudden, I realized how I might be in love with Everett. Like Keith, he asked many questions about me, making me feel like he was interested in who I was as a person. He had insightful comments that contributed to my personal development. Keith helped me through all the trials and tribulations as a teenager and an early twenty-something; he was seven years older than me. Everett helped me appreciate and value myself more as a mature woman, and we are the same age.
Keith and Everett gave me emotional and psychological comfort. They both saw through me and understood me without too many words. My other boyfriends didn't. Everett came to be the second person to see through me and give me that feeling. He stole a seat in my heart. I protest, "I can't be in love with Everett!" But I am; my heart warms, and my face smiles thinking of him.
My little sunshine amid the pandemic was Everett. Chatting with him while waiting to move, trying to sell off things, and attempting to find a way to get through travel restrictions, made the ordeal a bit easier.
By the end of July, I finally received a special visa; I got approval to travel! Next, I got to purchase a plane ticket and be on my way out of the country. A new beginning was on the horizon; hope for a brighter future shed light on me, and love was in the air. Perhaps I don't need to remember that feeling I had so long ago with Keith because I could live it with Everett.
Key Takeaways: Though I moved from a house to a studio apartment, I thought I was losing a lot, but I discovered the freedom in being carefree and worry-free with a studio apartment.
Though I was in dire straits because of the global pandemic, I found a little sunshine when I fell in love as I did with my first love
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called How to Be an Optimist and What Tolerating Means. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!