Wednesday, October 6, 2010

If you don't know, I -- like so many jet-setters -- have been splitting my time between Winnipeg and New York City. Lately the whirlwind travel has started to damage my internal systems and honestly, my doctor, my bartender and my boyfriend are all suggesting that I start thinking about settling somewhere quiet.

So we're looking for an apartment in New York. This is first in a series.

If you want deeper insight into this situation, please watch the following, in reverse:

New York, New York, Part 1

Penn Station is teeming. There are so many people, it's like Grand Central Station. I make this joke every time I'm there, and I always have to wait for the laugh. I'm still waiting. The MennoKnight doesn't even roll his eyes this time.

Maybe it's the heat. We get in line at a taxi stand that is four miles long. A man behind me is talking loudly into his cell about demolition. There's a toddler in a stroller chewing on a dog toy. At least I think it's a dog toy since it's a piece of rubber bacon. At least I think it's rubber.

The elderly lady in front of me is telling her husband that she's sorry she brought so many bags but she didn't know what shoes to bring. I sympathize. The city smells like cigars and popcorn.
It's 88 degrees in September, a wet, soggy heat that comes up from the pavement, from the buildings all around us, and from above.

I love this place.

It took us five long frantic days to find short-term lodging for the ten days that we'll be apartment hunting. We tried Roomarama, airbnb, and Craigslist. I used the bed bug theory to explain the dearth of accommodations. The MennoKnight said I was paranoid, right up until the last couple of days when we were a train ride away from a box in Central Park.

"Tell them we're Canadian. Everyone knows how clean and polite Canadians are," I said.
We finally find a place on Craigslist and jump into the abyss, which in this case is someone's bedroom on the Upper East Side with a good address and no view.

I didn't actually catch our hostess's complicated name, but no matter. We get up to the apartment and she had a bit of a surprise for us. A 13 month old baby who she says is very quiet. 'Cause babies are.

I like kids. But this makes it a little hard to imagine stumbling home at 3 am after one of those New York kind of nights, but that's okay too, my liver could use the rest, and dagnabbit, we're here to find an apartment. And I have a meeting with my agent in two hours. Time is of the essence. It's all about time right now. Strike while the recession is hot. It's all about the Now.

So I meet my girlfriend in SoHo to do a little shopping.

SoHo is teeming. I'm waiting on the corner for her, and I think I see the guy who is Samantha's boyfriend in the Sex and the City movie, the first one. Even if it isn't, I don't care, I just realize that he completes me. There's no time to follow him, since my friend shows up even as the crowd eats him alive.

My girlfriend shows up with her boyfriend, the TV Writer. He looks David Duchovny. She Could Be a Guess Model. I realize we could get a seriously good table if we went for lunch. So we do.
TV Writer and CBGM and I go to this little hippy cafe in NoHo, which is SoHo's chubby sister. It reminds me a little of home except that the huge bowl of fruit I order, with melon, apple, grapes, three kinds of berries, toasted almonds and yellow currants on a cloud of wet muesli that tastes like pudding -- with coffee --comes to about six bucks when we get the check.

You gotta love a free market.

We shop too long. And I'm late for my agent meeting. But so is he. I blame the trains, he blames the phone.

You gotta love New York time.

Agent meeting is exciting and fast-paced, just the way he talks. I drink too much coffee, but the bathroom at The B ____ is beautiful and very Mad Men, so I don't mind. Walking back to reality from the restroom I pretend I'm Joan and let everything swing a little as I move.

Agent says blah blah blah and pays for everything. Just the way I like it. I head back to the UES because we have choices to make. Places to see. We have to get this pony expressing.

We have needs, and options. We've ruled out the places we can't afford: anything in Manhattan except for Washington Heights and Harlem. We've ruled out Brooklyn because the MennoKnight has a weird anti-Brooklyn thing that I can't figure out. To me Brooklyn looks just like Canada. Also nothing further than Jackson Heights.

It's pretty much narrowed down to Queens. Or maybe Queens.

When our short term rental is up in the UES, we shift ourselves over to Astoria, which is our old neighbourhood. Now we're going to start looking in earnest! Right after we go immediately back into the city to meet our favourite friends, G & D for dinner on the Upper West Side.

I love G & D, not only because they have a dog, but also because they have introduced me to my new great passion: Judaism. After having spent a significant amount of time with the lovely and talented G & D they have convinced me that I was probably of the faith in either another life, or maybe even this one, historically. At any rate, even if I'm not actually a Jew, I'm certainly "Jew-ish."

(That joke never gets old.)

G & D are living the NY dream. Jobs in the city, a house in the country, no kids at home, and a dog named Abby. After dinner we walk back to their apartment for a dog fix and then we go up top, for wine on the rooftop terrace, overlooking the Hudson with a view of the Jersey side.
When I can't peel my eyes away, The MennoKnight says he's not living in Jersey and I should stop staring.

I make a roofie joke. 'Cause we're on the roof.

From the roof of G & D's apartment, you can see at least dozen water towers on the tops of the other buildings. New York is a city of water towers. The MennoKnight explains that after a big fire at the turn of the century, the city made the tanks mandatory.

There's something quaint and old world about them, something very human. During the blackout in 2003, most of those buildings had water for as long as there was some in the tower. Gravity is unimpeachable.

I don't know why, but the water towers in the dark make me a little sad, whether because they are such an obvious last hold out for an analog world, or because I think you can see one from my grandma's balcony at home, I don't know.

Then we see a photographer taking salacious photos on another roof top and we're all momentarily distracted from nostalgia and home. I make the brown-chickie brown-cow joke.
We have a lot of apartment hunting to do the next day, so we leave G & D fully intending to head back and get some sleep.

Except NY is kind of small and everyone seems to be in town this weekend.

We go over to The W___ B___ for a couple night caps. We meet the TV Writer and CBGM there. When they arrive, we realize that CBGM and I are wearing the same pants -- bought in SoHo that day. We think this is hysterically funny. That might be the libations. She looks a little better in hers, but I wear mine with a certain elan that cannot be ignored. We think the word 'elan' is hysterically funny.

Later we're joined by an old friend from Winnipeg. He's in town for a few days and the five of us toast Canada. The bartender tells us a Canadian joke.

"How do you get a bunch of drunk Canadians out of your pool?" he asks. "Say, 'can you guys get out of the pool, please?" We know this joke but we give it to him anyway and laugh. We hope for free pour. It doesn't happen.

The W___ B___ was established in 1978 and has a lot of dark wood and glossy surfaces. It's a good looking place and right across the street from a theatre that did one of the MennoKnight's plays. It's stately and impressive.

By 1:30 the bathroom smells like urine and I see for the first time that the tp dispenser is broken, there's a long veiny crack in the wall over the facilities. Plus the auto-tap is demonic and comes on when I come out of the bathroom and then again when I'm drying my hands. Wash them again, it seems to say. Wash your hands you dirty, dirty girl. I assume the bathroom is haunted.

Time to move on. Big day coming up. Apartments don't rent themselves. So therefore we must head over to Mc___ 's in Hell's Kitchen for a nightcap.

We meet some theatre friends of the MennoKnight's, the Ingenue and the Dancing Guy. The Ingenue has been on two CSIs. Dancing Guy played a lead in the MennoKnight's last hit, a big deal and they're all very theatre-emotional about it. I try to fit in without hugging. Lots of Off Broadway-level wise-cracking ensues. My face hurts from laughing.

Then suddenly, it's after 3 am. We walk while we decide whether to cab it or take the train. We take the train.

The subway is teeming. This surprises me. What really surprises me is how many people are still playing their A-game, with nice hair, fresh make up. I feel wrinkled and soiled, and terribly, happily contented.

We don't have to sneak in past a baby, and this makes me happy, too.

Big day tomorrow. Apartment hunting. I fall asleep thinking that this will be my city soon. That my son, my dog and all the shoes I had to leave behind, will be here and I'll call this home.

Queens, where Archie Bunker lived.
I like Queens. I love New York.

1 comment:

  1. I love catching up with you through your writing. I can hear your voice and it brings back some good memories.

    Nice to hear the "happy" in your voice too.'re going to be living in the same State as me soon? Hope this means we might get to see each other more often...though NYC is still a long ways from Webster.

    Find an apartment with a guest room...and remember...we have one already!

    Love you...
    :) mikell


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