Barnes and Noble is a strange place to have an epiphany, but that’s where it happened. I was sitting upstairs at the store in TriBeCa watching the taxis drive down Warren St, waiting for Carlos who was interviewing for a job at a company nearby. (He got the job, by the way!) I was feeling exhausted from all the walking we’d been doing, and overwhelmed by the sheer number of people going briskly about their day on the street below, oblivious to me and my splashless arrival; sharp looking men in three piece suits, fashionable women in skirts and $500 pumps, kids in tight jackets and scarves. And me, the newest addition feeling shabby and wrecked in a pair of worn jeans and a discount hoodie. There was something about the flow of people on the street below, how they walked with purpose and made way for one another, that instilled in me the first feeling of calm I’d had since arriving. A sense of movement after a long bout of stagnation.
Carlos met me at the airport. He didn’t have much confidence that I’d be able to navigate the subway on my own. (A fair assessment given the fact that I’ve done nothing but ride the subway for five days and can still make heads nor tails of it.) We lugged my suitcase and bags (containing everything I own in the world) to the subway and back to our temporary residence in Queens.
The apartment is a nice one, with a view of Manhattan from the bedroom and a view of the ocean from the living room. (The beach literally begins as you step out the front door.) We share it with our host, Ken, who was gracious enough to let us stay with him until we have jobs and an apartment of our own, and two cats named June and Truffaut who mostly ignore us until they’re hungry or want to be rubbed.
Mostly we’ve been out. The past few days have been a blur. Sushi in Chelsea. Hot chocolate at Rockefeller Center. Walking past Madison Square Gardens and The World Trade Center. Tourists in Times Square. Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. Seeing the Statue of Liberty. Getting a key chain in China Town that says, I ❤ NY. Shopping in Soho. Going to the Metropolitan Museum. Eating from food carts and walking through Central Park.
Every corner of the vast city seems to be a landmark that I’d only read about or seen in movies or on TV. Ken is amazed that I was willing to pack up and move to the city, sight unseen. But New York has always been my dream city. It just took Carlos’s optimism to convince me that it didn’t have to remain a dream. So together we decided to make it a reality.
Now we’re checking out neighborhoods we want to live in. We really like Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, and it’s the most affordable. There’s also Park Slope and Williamsburg in Brooklyn that are still possibilities. We liked Astoria in Queens, but didn’t love it. And Chelsea is beyond our means.
Of course all of this is dependent upon me getting a job as soon as possible. The idea that my last paycheck next Friday will be my last paycheck is more than a little terrifying. We’ve done a good job of saving the past year or so, but this won’t last forever. I’m relieved that Carlos was able to get a job so quickly, and hope that I’ll have the same luck.
Right now I’m still growing accustomed to the quick pace of my new city. The Queens accents. (I’ve already heard someone say “Yous guys!”) How expensive apartments are and eating out is (except for the hot dog carts and pizza stands that are ridiculously cheap. $.89 for a hot dog, a dollar for a slice of pizza!) But every day I feel more and more at home, and I’m really looking forward to the day that Carlos and I get to set up shop in a place that’s entirely our own.