Thursday, October 30, 2014

tbt: 5 years in NYC

This fall marks 5 years that I've lived in New York City. Mine was the classic moving story - I was working in a small theater in an even smaller town in Connecticut, when a friend called me up sometime in late July and said, "so, are we doing this or not?" I said sure, what the hell, let's see what New York has to offer - and seemingly justlikethat we had ourselves the tiniest little apartment in Astoria that $1450/month (plus first month, plus broker's fee...) could rent. Granted, the justlikethat part was really one torturously long weekend where we saw (I kid you not) 22 different apartments in three different boroughs and at the last minute decided on the 34th St. apartment, and then had one hour to get cashier's checks from our respective banks and make it back to the real estate agent's office before they closed and my future roommate's plane departed back to Louisville and I left to go back to Connecticut to make the next day's matinee performance of Camelot. Oh, and did I mention that somewhere in the middle of all of this my phone gave up on itself and I was forced to sign another 2-year contract because I had just spent all my money on rent and needed the free phone but that I was with T-Mobile at the time and they hadn't gotten the iPhone yet so I had to accept a flip phone and this proved to be a very stressful situation for me so I had a meltdown in the T-Mobile store in which I screamed and cried and threw my credit card at the poor guy behind the counter?

It's funny how those memories become funny and fuzzy over time. That must be what childbirth is like.

Anyway, so some time after getting kicked out of a T-Mobile store on Ditmars, I closed my show in Connecticut and got a ride down to New York from one of the theater's patrons (the perks are few and far between, but sometimes being an artist is nice). Just under two hours later, I arrived in my new apartment with little more than two suitcases and a couple of shopping bags. The bed I'd purchased off of Craigslist was propped up in the corner of the living room, drying out from the seven coats of anti-bed bug spray I'd applied the weekend before. Dani, my roommate, wasn't scheduled to arrive for another two days. We'd made plans for an Ikea run, but that wasn't until later in the week.

So I did what any normal person would do in this situation - I ordered Chinese food, laid on my air mattress, put on some Pushing Daisies via the DVD player on my laptop, and made some lists. We needed everything. Not just big things like a couch and a bookshelf, but those little things that you first assume just come with an apartment. Toilet paper. Paper towels. A shower curtain. Salt and pepper.

And slowly but surely (emphasis on the slowly), I formed the basis of what became my first New York family. We bought the toilet paper, stocked up on paper towels, found a shower curtain that worked perfectly (it even had pockets for extra storage!), bought a couch on Craigslist, and survived it's delivery by the most clich├ęd creepy-man-in-an-unmarked-white-van I'd ever seen. I booked a show, made some new friends, found a favorite bagel place, landed and eventually quit a crappy waitressing job, went for long walks through new neighborhoods, saw a bunch of plays, found a yoga studio, worked a million different random freelance gigs, and even learned the intricacies of the subway system sans internet (remember that flip phone?).

I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point over the past five years I stopped being Someone Who Lived in New York and started Becoming a New Yorker. Maybe it was the first time I gave correct directions to a lost tourist, maybe it was the first time I saw a Broadway show for free, because I knew a few people on the production team, maybe it was that time I walked 7 miles to work because Hurricane Sandy shut down the subway system, or maybe it was the first time I threw on leggings and cute boots just to walk around the corner to the grocery store, but I eventually began to regard this crazy city as Home. And it felt really good to do so.

The pictures throughout this post are all some of my favorite memories from the past five years of living in New York, but because this is my blog and I can do what I want (and because it wouldn't be a true TBT without photo proof!) here are my top moments of the past five years - enjoy ;)

2009 - A walk through Central Park and a trip to FAO Schwarz on a perfect fall day with two of my newest NYC friends was exactly the intro to the city I needed.

2010 - Even though I secretly knew most of them were just using me for my free couch in a shockingly expensive city, one of the best things about living in New York is that all your loved ones from back home suddenly really want to visit you. I got to play tour guide to two of my besties from Chicago one summer, and we had a fantastic few days taking a carriage ride through the park, shopping in SoHo, and training it all the way down to Coney Island just so we could dip our toes into the Atlantic.

2011 - We called it BridgeWalk 2011 - three bridges (Queensboro, Brooklyn, and Manhattan Bridges, respectively), two tickets to the Transit Authority Museum, a few slices of lunchtime pizza, and an immensely fun day.

2012 - Three words: Hurricane Survival Kit.

2013 - A lost phone number, a missing voicemail, a confusing text message, and finally, a blind date at a local wine bar led to my favorite kiss on my favorite New Year's with my favorite guy.

2014 - It's all about the little moments: a pleasant walk to work, a quick bagel date with an old friend, a particularly moving yoga class, a quiet night of Netflix on the couch, brunch at the diner around the corner. Though I have no immediate plans to move, I can't say for sure how long I'll stay in this city (maybe just another year or two, maybe forever - will you let me know if you find my crystal ball?) but I know that years from now when I look back on this period of my life, the brightest memories will be those of the seemingly ordinary and mundane. Moving here was the craziest and best decision I've ever made, and I cannot wait to see what the future will hold.

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