So I am officially homeless and unemployed! I moved back to good old tiny Toledo Ohio last week and I will be here for the next month. In fact, I leave exactly one month from today!
Up until now everyone has asked me, “aren’t you sad to be leaving New York and your beautiful apartment?” My answer had always been, “yeah I guess” but I never felt a true deep sadness about it. Now don’t get me wrong, change is hard for me but I have come to the realization that change is hard when I have no control over it. When I have control, I welcome change! That being said, I don’t think I properly allowed myself to digest how big this change really was and that’s probably because there was so much to get done before it actually happened. One of the biggest things on my list was packing up my apartment. After one week of sorting, packing, wrapping and pitching it was finally complete. My home, my memories and 9 years of my NYC life were taped and sealed into 97 boxes. Who knows where I will be, the person I will be and the new memories I’ll have the next time I open up these boxes.
I moved into my most recent apartment in 2008 and I fell in love from the moment I walked in. I had originally seen my apartment building years before because it was right next to my old laundromat. Each time I did my laundry I walked by the building and said to myself, “wow that is such a nice building; I would like to live there some day”. Then in 2008 I decided to look for a bigger apartment so I called a broker and she asked me to meet her at 33-43 Crescent Street. She told me where it was located and in my head I thought, that sounds like the place I’ve been eyeing for the past few years. So I met her that afternoon at 3pm and low and behold it was the building! I walked in and within 30 seconds I knew it had to be mine. The apartment was HUGE by New York standards! Without hesitation I told her that I wanted the apartment but as is typical with apartment searching in NYC, there was another guy who was also looking at the apartment at the same time and he had first dibs. Thankfully this guy was brand new to New York City, still a bit naive and a softy; I knew if I played it right I had a good chance at getting it. The real estate agent mentioned that she had the exact same unit on the other side of the building and without even looking at it he said he would take it so I could have the one I wanted since I seemed to like it so much. I signed the lease before we even left my soon-to-be living room in order to lock it down. A few weeks later I ran into that guy and he told me that his unit was NOT the same and added that it was much smaller and that I definitely got the better end of the deal. I had a feeling that the real estate agent probably wasn’t being completely honest with him when she told him about that other unit, but if there is one thing New York has taught me, it is to be aggressive and jump on opportunities the moment you see them! And just so you don’t think I’m a complete jerk, that guy ended up getting transferred two years later so I don’t feel as guilty about it.
Once I got my apartment I asked my mom to fly in so that she could help me decorate…which leads into a story that I will never forget! Once my mom arrived we had planned to rent a car and go to IKEA in Long Island. It was only an hour and a half away and we left at 8:00AM in the morning in order to make it home for an 8pm Broadway Show that we had tickets to. Once we got to IKEA I realized that due to the size of my apartment, there was a ton of extra space and I would need more furniture to fill it since I had only moved in with a couch. To make a long story short, all the furniture that I wanted wouldn’t fit in our tiny compact rental car. So after much contemplation we decided to rent a U-HAUL truck and leave the rental car in Long Island and come back for it later. For those of you that know my driving history, I haven’t had the best luck. I’ve had multiple tickets and accidents (none were my fault….ok maybe a few) and I don’t particularly enjoy driving. In fact, one of the perks of moving to New York was that one day my driving record would be cleared since I didn’t have a car there. However, here I found myself climbing up into a 20 foot U-HAUL truck and making the 1.5 hour drive back to the city. East coast driving is a completely different ballgame from Midwest driving. In the east they have something called car pool lanes that you can drive in when there is more than one person in a vehicle, so we proceeded to get in that lane…..I mean there were 2 of us in the car right? About 30 minutes later multiple tractor trailers were honking their horns at us non-stop and we had no reason why. Finally one of them rolled down their window and shouted that trucks were NOT ALLOWED to drive in the car pool lane! Well good to know, I guess we missed the memo! It then began raining to the point that it was hard to see 10 feet in front of us. Once we got home it was coming down in buckets and of course there was nowhere to park (welcome to Astoria) to unload the 6 pieces of large furniture and 15 additional bags. So we parked a half block away in an exit driveway of a parking garage and prayed that no one would want to leave. Then my mother and I proceeded to HAND CARRY all the furniture by ourselves in the pouring down rain off that U-HAUL truck down the street into my apartment! We carried a chaise, a huge lazyboy chair, an ottoman, more chairs, a night stand and the biggest coffee table that you ever saw (which later got returned). We were soaked to the bone as if we had just jumped into a swimming pool. Once we got everything inside we immediately jumped back in the truck to take it back to Long Island to get our rental car. We had those Broadway show tickets for that evening and there was no time to be wasted! The drive back to Long Island took us over 3 hours because of the rain and while we were on the highway we noticed that the traffic in the opposite direction to get back home was even worse. There was no way we were going to make it to the 8pm show! So we dropped off the U-HAUL and drove the rental car to the first train station we found in Babylon. We parked the car and took the 1.5 hour train back into the city so that we could see our show. We looked god awful but the show was great! At 11pm, we got back on a train and returned to Long Island for the third time that day to pick up the rental car. We didn’t get home until 1AM. Even today when I tell this story, it still doesn’t do it justice. It truly is one for the books and a story that my mom and I will share forever. Needless to say the whole experience was worth it and I’ve loved my apartment ever since!
My last day in New York before I flew home was absolutely perfect. I got up early and went to a breakfast diner that I had been passing on my morning runs for the past 8 years that I always said I was going to try……..it was delicious! Then I got a manicure and pedicure at my favorite spa in New York while watching the traffic pass below on 57th street, the street that I had my very first job on. I then went to my favorite museum, the MOMA and enjoyed it one last time as a New York resident. From there I took a subway to Soho and stopped into a Fresh store where I used to work to play with some of the new products. That afternoon I met a friend for one last goodbye and then headed directly to my local bar in Astoria at 4PM to enjoy my favorite drink….a picklematini ok maybe I had 2 picklemartinis! It was a great ending to my New York years.
Even up until the morning of my last day, I still didn’t have any emotions about my upcoming departure. For some reason I just knew it was time for me to go and I never felt nostalgic. But when I was in my apartment for the very last time, doing a final walk through, something came over me and I immediately started to clean. I scrubbed the bathroom clean for the very last time, I swept my beautiful hardwood floors and got down on my hands and knees to wash the kitchen floor. I didn’t have to clean but something took over me and I had no control. I wanted to clean that apartment for the very last time, the apartment that I took pride in and cleaned every Saturday morning for the past 6 years, the apartment that was with me through job promotions, dinner parties, breakups, family visits, and holidays. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, I started to cry. I cried and cried until there were no tears left to cry, after all this time I finally let myself be sad. I was sad to leave my friends, my life in New York and lastly sad to leave that pretty apartment. It finally caught up to me….I thought I could escape it but I was wrong. I should’ve known better, I”ve always been a sensitive person. But as soon as it came, it passed and I am not looking back.
My apartment was the one place that comforted me after returning from a rough day at work, long business trip or a crazy night on the town. It made me happy to look at souvenirs I had collected from trips to different countries or the artwork and pictures that hung from wall to wall. I guess a home does that to you, that’s what makes it your own. But as the saying goes, home is where the heart is and I know that some day I’ll find a place that makes me just as happy…. wherever that may be.
the last thing I removed from my wall before leaving.