An Address and a Half
There is nothing that makes you want to live in New York less than looking for a place to live in New York.
After looking at maybe a dozen places, and either hating them or loving them but they have been snatched up before it could be humanly possible to accept, or have a surprise $5,000 broker fee, or require my earning six figures a year, I came to the conclusion that this whole search involving official things like "landlords" and "leases" officially was not my thing, and settled on a living situation I was much more comfortable with: a sublet. Yes, half the tiny studio is stuffed with God-knows-what belongings from the tenant. And sure, I signed an "agreement" that I will not: have frequent visitors, move anything around, bring furniture in, bring furniture out - basically make my presence completely unknown because it's not a legal sublet. Yeah yeah yeah. First of all, I found the notion of a hand-written agreement quite charming, reminiscent of my month-to-month first apartment in Barbados (I'm still off-the-grid, even in NYC!). And secondly, the apartment sits at the corner of West 4th and Jane. So now, to quote my uncle, I reside at an address and a half.
Still, I had my moments of hesitation. I was commuting from my aunt and uncles' in Long Island, and was quite comfortable there! The 40 minute train ride really didn't bother me all that much - it served as time for me to get ready for work (hair, makeup, enjoy my coffee, etc.), time that I can't seem to clear out when it's not forced. Quick calculations shows that if I didn't take the sublet, I could bank close to $10,000 for the same time period. But I've never regretted one cent I've spent on travel, and ultimately viewed this opportunity to live in the West Village as another travel adventure. Decision made.
It was officially mine June 28, and though I was saving the actual "move-in" for the weekend, I was anxious to turn the key for the first time. I walked down after work, just to pay my new space a visit. For the first time, it was just me alone in the apartment. I started peeking around all the spaces I hadn't checked out under the watchful eye of the tenant. First I opened the closet door - the tenant (let's call her Karen) had mentioned her stuff was in there, but I assumed I could work around it. Wrong. When I twisted the handle, the door burst open like contents under pressure. Bags came tumbling down on me, and it took the full force of my body weight to close back the door. Moving into the bathroom, I realized that the enormous hamper taking up more than half the room was not, in fact, an empty place for me to throw my laundry, but was full of about 70 pounds of this woman's old clothes. Linen closet - totally shelved. No hanging space. The screened off area in the living room/bedroom shielding more of her belongings was somehow twice as big as I remembered it under the starry-eyed first visit. Slight panic attack. Where am I going to put any of my things?! I collapse onto the hard futon/soon-to-be my bed. What did I get myself into? There is NO ROOM FOR ME IN THIS PLACE! I'm going to be living amongst some crazy woman's collection of rags and Holocaust books! I called Phil crying. "Where's Casey?" he asked. "You'll feel better when your sister gets there." True statement. Casey showed up with a bottle of celebratory champagne and comforting words like "closet rod", "mattress pad", and "Connecticut storage". We went through the cramped kitchen shelves, Casey throwing things away left and right. "But Casey," I protested, "What if she gets mad that we got rid of the cat food?" "Renee!" she quickly and quite logically retorted, "She doesn't have a cat!"
At the end of that night, I left for one of my last Long Island commutes with a reaffirmed belief in my decision.
Later in the week, I spend an hour trying get the TV I brought in to work (Karen's TV is about 11 inches and only suits those who don't really care about seeing anything on the screen). But apparently taking the cable out of the old TV and screwing it into the newer TV is not enough. The hose in the window from the floor-unit AC pops off ten times while I'm fiddling with the TV wires, and I put it back in ten times. On the eleventh, I decide I hate living alone, grab the leftovers from my fridge, eyeball two glasses-worth of wine into my travel mug, and head for the High Line. After all, I didn't take this apartment for it's interior splendor. I took it for the location! So why spend the night stressing over not getting the TV to work?
And what a reward. I perch myself on an empty wooden chaise lounge, overlooking the Hudson River and prime people watching. Two hours later and I'm still enjoying the view, imagining I'm on the deck of a cruise ship, and realizing I've found another boardwalk. This one just happens to be an old elevated railway in a metropolis, but I've still found myself on a chaise lounge staring at the sunset.
Nothing like a NY Italian sub and some red wine-in-hiding
Little people watching!
One of my favorite vantage points on the High Line. The apartment buildings to the right of the billboard look better suited to a European village than Manhattan, and it's an awesome juxtaposition with the Empire State building rising behind. You can't really see the detail in the apartments from this photo though, so go see for yourself!
Later in the week, I take my aunt up on an offer to check out some of the extra home goods she has in her apartment. What we end up with are copious piles of plates, bowls, wine glasses, pots, and pans. I stare at everything and map out several trips to get this to my apartment. My aunt has other plans, though, and pulls out a push cart from her closet. Voila! One-stop shop. We load up the cart, and everything fits snugly. Realistically, the only option is for me to push the cart to my apartment. There's no way I'm getting it down and back up subway steps, and I'd have to unpack it to get it into a cab. So, off I go. The moving process is dreaded by all, but if this is the biggest hurdle I have to get over, I'm quite alright with it. The entire journey I'm laughing at the sight of myself pushing this thing clear across Manhattan, avenue block by avenue block, and my constant giggling attracted more than one curious look.
I'm still not sure I'm ready to settle into NYC for "good", but I walk around my new block and the tree-lined, cobblestone streets look like a movie set where a horse-drawn carriage is going to pass by any minute and I know I made the right decision accepting my address and a half.