morning, Tuesday. It's hot out there, I'm so glad to be in here. So as a workman who came to fix a leak in my
ceiling yesterday took an excruciatingly long dump in my bathroom, I realized
something. New York apartment living is a lot like life. Too much perhaps.
live in places that reflect our tastes, income, and place in life. Our homes
say a lot about us for obvious reasons- from the gilded tack of Trump Tower to
Georgia O'Keefe's stripped down chic in New Mexico. But if you do or have ever
lived in New York City and its environs, you know that living here is often a
mirror into a carnival ride of emotions and moments and symbols.
lived in many ways in New York City. Those apartments and habitats read like a
list of discarded lovers.
lived in a one bedroom shared with a woman I did not know and slept on a futon
for several years. This was my first experience living in New York, and the
apartment was merely a vessel for all that I was to discover outside its walls.
The space meant little to me; just as most things did back then- I did not
particularly care about finding love, career success, or much of anything else
except climbing into the woodwork of Manhattan. And that I did.
places followed- the first stint in Brooklyn, in a beautiful little jewel box
on Bergen Street that felt like protection from the world when I needed it the
most. Back then Brooklyn may as well have been the moon. But there were trees,
and shade and children playing, and truly, that's all I needed. Until I didn't.
New York living is indeed like a love- the smell of fresh paint seduces you,
the promise of more closet space, the revelation of a garden. But suddenly, and
just like that, you outgrow it, and then you move on.
back to the island of Manhattan some time later, to a studio apartment on the
Upper East Side. It was small, and smelled of gas. But it was my first
apartment on my own, and it was there I grew up a little. Much like your first
grown up relationship, it may not be physically exactly what you're after, but
it shows you stuff you didn't know you could see. Plus there was a decent diner
downstairs and I was often comforted by their late night sounds of dishwashing
and plate clanking. It provided a soundtrack of sorts for my very noisy mind at
that time of life.
that there was Stuyvesant Town, another step in maturity that felt necessary.
The apartment itself was truly a step up; a gift from some far off Apartment
God who somehow connected me with someone whose family had been on that
infamous list forever and wanted a subletter to keep the dream alive. I was
living there during 9/11, and somehow its middle class hamlet vibe was what I
needed at that time. There was green space, there was light. But there were
very few subway lines nearby. And for that reason, I outgrew this place
were more places- a tiny apartment in Soho that felt more like a psych ward
cell in a designer prison, and then there were spaces in Miami, and then, there
was New York again. Another apartment, another love affair, another life ended,
and another began.
recently moved out of the apartment we had been in for just over five years.
David found it for us and truly, it was perfection. Until it wasn't.
We had a
yard. We had a duplex. We had two bathrooms. We were living in a posh
neighborhood that felt leafy, perfect, beautiful. And as I came to rediscover
the city and pursue my freelance career, this apartment tripped me up somehow.
Because there was no light. Absolutely zero natural light. So even though on
paper this apartment provided everything we needed including the bonus of not
having to put on a bra to take Khan out to pee, it was dark. And that made us a
little dark. Oh and all my clothes lived in a storage space across the hall.
And we slept in a basement. That has to be a metaphor for something somehow.
And then our landlord sold the building, and we panicked. Because even
though we were in the dark and our bed was in the basement, we were not quite
ready to give this place up. But the universe had other plans I suppose.
to now, where I'm living on a third floor walkup in the same glorious
neighborhood, on a far more beautiful block. I know I've written about this
place before, but this place. The most beautiful floors. Natural light.
Tasteful kitchen. But not without sacrifices. Because our second bedroom
became my closet, to house all the clothes and shoes and stuff I've collected
from this lifetime. And what does that mean? That we don't really have room for
guests. Because my stuff needs a place to live. And I'm ok with that. Because
right now, I feel a big breakthrough happening and perhaps I need my stuff
around me- literally and figuratively to feel it out. Or maybe I just have too
much shit. Either way.
though this apartment is lovely and sexy and super pretty, there are things. As
there always are in New York dwellings.
those things? The mailbox system is confusing. I never know when I'm going to
get mail and which mailbox it will be in. Hmm. The bathroom is right behind the
kitchen, which is always a little weird. We're on the third floor and sometimes
the steps make my knees ache. The constant construction makes me feel less like
I’m in Brooklyn and more like Beirut. But then I look at my beautiful bedroom,
so simple and light filled and lovely, and realize how wonderful this apartment
is. Because I'm spending a lot of time here lately, working alone, going
through this blog and trying to put together something of note to present to
the world in the form of some essays, a book perhaps. And just as I'm consoling
myself that everything's going to be alright, the guy who came to fix the leak
in my ceiling disappears into my bathroom for an obscenely long time and makes
me remember that there is nothing truly idyllic about apartment living in New
York, particularly when you're renting. And just like life and sometimes love,
all the beauty in the world can't protect you from a hot dump. And that's the
truth. It's not enough to make me want to flee the premises of course, I'm
holding on to this place for a good stretch. Because as a (ugh) grown up on the
verge of yet another birthday next month, I'm well aware that there's always
something there to remind us that life is not perfect, love is not perfect, we
are not perfect. I'm sure the gentleman who chose to assassinate my Aesop
product filled bathroom had not a single thought of this situation, but somehow
he was a reminder of how weird it all is- this life, this living, all of
And truly, many of my friends have purchased their apartments and good for them. But we live in a city where you can't afford to commit, so that says something- we can only afford impermanence, or that's what most of us end up with, though we somehow make it our own. The transience of New York living is not lost on me. Many rent the same apartment for years and years, I tend to switch them out when I'm done with them. Love 'em and leave 'em I guess. It's funny- when people buy the first thing they do is tear down what exists- we renters learn to live with what we have, for better or worse.
hope today is dump free. Until it isn't.
that's what's up this New York life of a Tuesday in the 718. Yours, in living,
loving, and apartment dwelling. XO