Back in the summer of 2010 my good friend, Karin, brought me to New York City for the first time in 14 years. I had been here once when I was 16, for a few days, during a bit of a chaotic time in my life. I had always been drawn to New York. I think it may be related to my mother having grown up here (in the suburbs), so I feel like New York runs through my blood. Karin, I believe, recognized this and saw that I belong here. So, off I went to experience the city as an adult and form my own opinion.
If you’ve read any of my social media posts, articles, tweets, etc., then it should not surprise you to hear that I did fall in love with New York that summer, and we’ve had a love affair ever since. I began earnestly seeking relocation about a year later, in 2011. It took well over a year for it to quasi-happen. I say “quasi” for a reason that I’ll explain in a bit. The primary stumbling block to moving here has been finding employment. I was offered a position several months ago, but their offer was so low that I’d have to survive off of soup and crackers, and live with six other people. Not exactly my New York dream. So I turned that offer down. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), the employment I did have in Florida abruptly ended in September when my position, along with hundreds of others, was eliminated in corporate layoffs. The good news is they handed me a wad of cash as severance and sent me on my merry way. That wad of cash has facilitated the big move. As such, here I am!
Now I did not expect a smooth transition. It is common knowledge that moving to New York City is one of the most challenging things one can do. Moving to New York City with two Chihuahuas and a cat is damn near insane. Furthermore, moving to New York City with two Chihuahuas, a cat, and no job is certifiable. Reward does not come without risk, however. I am not sure when I became such a risk-taker. Maybe when I turned 30. Nevertheless, I pulled the string, packed the furry beasts in the car, and headed up. The first month started out bad, went to worse, and then just got ridiculous. Let me explain.
I had a difficult time finding a pet-friendly apartment. Finding an apartment in New York is challenging enough. And I assert, without exaggeration, that it is easier to purchase property in my home state of Florida than it is to lease in New York City. Try leasing without current employment, a guarantor, a previous New York landlord reference, or $20k in cash, and get back to me when you’re released from the asylum. With all that in mind, I found a place owned by a friend of a friend that was in budget and pet-friendly. I took a look at it one evening and in my desperation I suppose I didn’t see it for what it really was, a complete crap hole. Only “crap” was not the term I have been using. This was a ground-floor apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn, off the Halsey J stop. Now the J train in general is as useful as a monkey riding a bicycle. It moves about as fast as a horse and buggy, if you’re lucky. Half the time you can walk to the next stop before the train arrives there. The only nice thing about the J is the elevated aspect, so you can get a cellphone signal during the majority of your painfully long riding experience. Enough about the J, though.
This sad apartment had not seen any love in many moons. The first night I arrived there I was nearly in tears at the thought of needing to stay there for another month. I promptly texted my aforementioned friend Karin, “need a new place, can’t stay here,” within the first few hours. There were many varieties of bugs (one had so many legs that I’m not sure if it originated from this planet or was merely visiting). Having spent 32 years in South Florida, I am not a stranger to roaches, but these roaches laughed at my attempts to Raid them. A laughing roach is not a good thing. On top of the bugs, the plumbing was backed up (only finally fixed the day before I moved out), it was on a block sandwiched between the rival gangs of the Bloods and Crips, and it was cold, dark, and damp. I had paid for one month, so I began counting down in order to survive the experience.
The apartment from hell was only challenge number one. Number two was the unforeseen bout of bronchospasms that introduced me to the New York City hospital system. The minor cold I came down with quickly transitioned to a horrible chest cold that impeded my ability to breathe (in part, I am sure, due to the nasty environment I was living in). So a week went by with me stuck in crap land, not really able to move around at all, see people, or really even talk to anyone. I missed out on two potential job leads as well. Not to mention that I no longer have health insurance, and had to spend a chunk of change on prescriptions that I didn’t end up needing (because why would I take an antibiotic for a virus, doctors?). Happily, though, challenge number two has come and gone, and on to three….
A hurricane. “A hurricane?” you ask. Yes, I moved away from South Florida, land of the hurricanes, only to find myself in the path of what the media has dubbed “Frankenstorm.” I have not had a TV since my move up here so I am only grabbing news from social media and NBC online. I understand that this one is not to be taken lightly. Of course, I was supposed to move into my new apartment in Downtown Jersey City, but what with THE ENTIRE TRI-STATE AREA SHUTTING DOWN, my plans have been impeded. Of course I was not about to stay in the flood-trap/death-cage of that ground floor apartment in Bushwick, so by some miracle I’ve temporarily relocated (with all pets in tow) to a friend’s vacant studio in Manhattan. I have half of my belongings still in Bushwick and half in my car. I figured that the valuable stuff (tv, computer, electronics) has a much better chance of survival in my car. If the stuff in Bushwick gets flooded out, it’s either all replaceable or cleanable. The primary things I care about are all staring at me as I type this (which is creepy enough, when you have several pets that watch you as if they have a plan they aren’t telling you about). That is the truth, though. I am fortunate to not be attached to any material objects. My pets can make life much more complicated, but they are worth every bit of hassle.
It’s about noon on the day of Frankenstorm as I finish up this article. Apparently, the brunt of it will begin crossing over us in a few hours, so I am not sure what the next few days will bring. As for me, I am entering month number 2 here in New York. I am hoping to move into my new studio in a few days. I am hoping to find steady employment very soon. I am hoping to look back at my first month in New York with a sense of humor. And lastly, I am hoping that Starbucks re-opens soon.