The process is so nerve-wracking and mentally exhausting that I haven’t done almost anything else for over a month.
I saw a good number of apartments in Spanish Harlem, but a lot of them didn't have living rooms or the bedrooms were really small. I figured, if I am going to live above the East Side, I should at least get more space. There was Kevin's place which was beautifully appointed, completely filled to the brim with nice antiques, but he was a little weird, I'd be living with four guys, and the room was only five and a half feet tall. There was Erin's place, which smelled so bad when I walked in that I should have turned right back around and left. There was no living room. And their place smelled like bad covered with incense.
There was this place out in Sunnyside, which is the farthest from Manhattan that I looked. Petro and Khary lived there. It was huge. Enormous. The room itself would have been acceptable for a studio, size-wise, but there was also a huge kitchen and an enormous living room. There was dishwasher. Laundry in the building (which I did not at the time realize would be such a rarity). A cleaning woman came in every two weeks to clean. And it was completely reasonable price-wise. I wasn’t too sure about the guys I was living with, but it turned out I shouldn’t have been so worried because in spite of the fact that I invited them to my New York Anniversary Party, they never called me.
Penny’s was the first apartment-in-house I saw. Another incense place, with crappy decorations. And while it wasn’t a railroad apartment per se, there was a door leading from my room to her room. She promised she wouldn’t open it if I didn’t want her, too. The living room was really small. And the cat had it’s own room, which I thought was weird.
There was the woman with the rabbit (I had no idea that rabbits took up so much space), the roommates who would call each other instead of knocking on each other’s doors. Oh, there was one that I almost took, except that after half hour of talking, she happened to mention that since she was almost never home, a friend of hers named Oscar stayed over three nights a week. I really liked the roommates in the 30th Avenue apartment, but at 7.5 feet, the room was just a smidge too narrow.
That place on January 31st I liked a lot, but it was an 18 minute walk away from the subway station (which is actually elevated in Queens, but still called the subway, I think). Other than that, there was a lot of room. They didn't care about barely any furniture in the living room, so I could bring my furniture in and the bedroom was pretty good. The roommates-to-be seemed nice and the cat seemed nice, too (I would say that 1/3 to 1/2 of the places I saw had cats).
I saw a garden apartment, lofts, apartment buildings, houses, brownstones. This one place used to be a dentist’s office. That one was really interesting, but Ken, the guy showing it to me (I know, I said I didn’t want to live with guys, but I was getting desperate), just wouldn’t shut up. When he called to arrange an appointment, something that should have taken no more than three minutes, we were on the phone for 32 minutes. And it wasn’t like he was asking me questions, or something reasonable, he was just talking. The next day, when I went to see the place – which had a few problems – he told me every single thing he had told me the night before, but elaborated. That was the next to last place I saw, and I was seriously considering emailing him to let him know if my interest. I think it would be a hoot to live in a dentist’s office.
So on Saturday, before I left my apartment for the dentist place, I was scrolling through Craig’s List and finally allowed myself to look through the broker apartments. I saw a studio for a pretty low amount, so I didn’t know if it was going to be any good, but I took the broker’s number. After Ken, I called. She said that the studio had been taken, but would I be interested in a one-bedroom. It was within my price range, so I said absolutely.
I got there, and I immediately thought, “Yes.” I knew I wouldn’t get as much space anywhere else for this price. And it was a one bedroom. I would be living by myself. If someone wanted to visit me for a week, there was no one to stop me by saying no. I can decorate however I want. In fact, the owners would let me paint and, assuming I had good taste, I didn’t have to paint it back when I was done living there. That is very unusual. The bathroom was a nice size. It’s a little short on closet space – there are only two, but there are work arounds for that. The room was a little short, but then, so am I. I don’t know anyone over seven feet anyway. It had gone on the market that afternoon and I think I may have been the first person to see it. And it was an eight minute walk tot he subway and a laundromat was a block and a half away.
New York Real Estate is a frantic business. Things go in the blink of an eye. There isn’t any time to think things over. I mean, you can think things over, but more than likely, the place will be gone by the time you get around to making up your mind. (And I really like to sleep on things before I decide something.) So I decided. Right then. I asked the current tenant if there were bugs and mice, and he told me what I wanted to hear. He has no reason to lie.
After 37 days, 150 emails, and over 20 apartment viewings, I have found myself a place to live. It’s in Astoria, which is in Queens, which is one of the boroughs directly east of Manhattan. If I understood boroughs I would explain it to you. It’s very close by train – like a 15 minute ride in. And I will have my own place - my own place. It’s like a dream. Yeah, it’s not so much space, but I think it will do nicely. I had Jock and Syl (and Sunflower) over with me to give it one last lookover before I finalized everything. They gave it the thumbs up, too. (Which is good because if I had backed out then, I would have lost the deposit.)