Manhattan At Last

August 2, 2001

After a long and grueling stay in Brooklyn, we finally signed the lease and got keys to our new home. We had a whopping two days to move in before we were off to England for Alex’s cousin’s wedding. We had only been in the apartment for maybe ten minutes three weeks before when we decided we’d take it. So we were slightly nervous walking up the three flights of stairs to the front door, not quite knowing what we’d agreed to live in for the next year. We turned the key in the lock and were met by a dingy little place. It had yet to be cleaned, and it smelled funny. A wave of depression swept over us. So this was home.

We decided to have the landlord clean it while we were away and move in when we got back. The thought of packing everything up, moving across town, and getting our stuff in here right before we were to be on a plane was a bit exhausting to comprehend.

Two weeks later…

We got back into Manhattan from London and hit the proverbial ground running. This time the place was clean, and somehow seemed a little bigger. Maybe it was our expectations that had shrunk. The walls of the main room are nine feet apart, but the ceiling is 12ft high, so if you turned this place on its side (a la The Poseidon Adventure) it would be bigger! It’s actually good that the ceiling is so high because there’s a sleeping loft over the kitchen. "Sleeping loft" is real-estate broker code for a platform just big enough for a mattress, but at least it gets the bed out of the main room. The last thing we want to do is feel like we’re spending a year in a bedroom.

Of course the walls were still a lovely shade of grime, so we picked out some colors and went nuts. We’ve both lived with white walls for years, so this was our chance. After many hours pouring through decorating books at the local B&N, we spent three days covering every surface we could find. There ain’t a white wall in sight. Tiffany learned all the artistic techniques to achieve the desired effects, like ragging and dry brush to add texture to bathroom walls. Alex even painted a cloud filled sky on the ceiling that fades into a starry night above the bed. We both had blue paint dripping down our arms as we swirled and blended the paint before it dried.

We went to Ikea on Sat. to furnish this shoebox. Yet another adventure. It's half an hour away in New Jersey, and there's a free bus shuttle that leaves every half-hour from the Port Authority on 42nd St. When we got there the line was 45mins long! There are a hell of a lot of people who had the same idea. We're crammed on a bus with a bunch of other bargain shoppers like tourists on our way to OZ. We overheard a guy saying, "I've never been to Ikea, I hear it's this huge place filled with cheap furniture." Ah, the uninitiated. Of course when we got there we had to race through the place pushing old ladies and small children aside. We were on a mission, and the last bus back left at 6pm. We found a 4ft couch and a desk that we hope will fit. We couldn't take anything back on the bus with us because there's no room, so we're getting it delivered - in true NY fashion. Of course, all the money we saved by buying cheap furniture, we're spending in delivery costs. Nothing is easy in this town. It makes us realize just how inexpensive and seemingly easy life was in good ol' CA.

Alex spent Sunday putting up some shelves under the ladder, so now the stereo has a home. First thing's first. We need music, and then we can worry about where the clothes are going to fit. Our latest minor crisis was when we started unpacking our clothes, liberating them from 11 weeks in suitcases. We might have to rent another place to fit it all. We have about 4 ft of closet space, and that seems to be full already with jackets. We're going to have socks and t-shirts shoved in every nook and cranny of this apartment. Alex’s shirts now live in the kitchen cupboard over the fridge! If we want clean undies we might have to dig past the spice wrack to find them. We’re not sure what we’re going to do when our winter clothes arrive from CA.

Our Neighborhood: The Upper West Side

We’re slowly getting to know our new neighborhood, venturing out in bigger and bigger circles as the days pass. We’re on W. 76th, right next to Central Park. The Natural History museum and new Hayden Planetarium are a couple blocks north. The famous Dakota apartments, where John Lennon lived are just down the street. Within a few blocks of us we have almost every conceivable type of food. There’s even a swap meet every Sunday just a block away. Our street is pretty quiet — except for the jackhammers every morning. It’s usually a calm residential street lined with trees. We’re looking forward to seasons and the changing of the leaves right outside our window.

Half a block away is Central Park, which is a world unto itself. Last month we saw Measure for Measure as part of the free Shakespeare in the Park series. In the evenings the streets are closed to traffic and hundreds of cyclists, joggers and roller bladers swarm along the roads and paths. You forget that you’re in one of the biggest cities in the world surrounded by fireflies dancing among the trees.

All the essentials are nearby: Tower Records, Barnes & Noble, movie theaters — what more could we need? Oh yeah, a steady supply of hot chocolate and mocha fraps. One thing, however, is sadly lacking. No Jamba Juice. Booooo! This might be a deal breaker. I mean, how can the city that never sleeps possible operate without decent smoothies? If we suddenly appear back on the West Coast, you’ll know why.


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