Yesterday I took my last look at the loft apartment Danusia and I lived in for almost 8 ½ years. Danusia was working so I got to do it by myself. I took one last look around at the empty apartment, said goodbye, and closed the door. I wondered if I was going to get emotional, and I did for a second, it was a beautiful space and we’d made it our own, but there was nothing we could do (short of becoming rich overnight) to stay there. I went downstairs and said goodbye to our friends at the S&Y Organics, Itzak and his cousin, who’s name I never quite got.
They are the sweetest guys in the world, two Syrian Jews that I was afraid for when they moved in, I thought Broadway would swallow them up whole. I’ll miss them.
I’ll miss the train ride over the bridge, too. I saw some interesting things on that ride in the years at the loft, I think the best was one morning around 6am on my way to work I saw towering flames rising from a burning warehouse on the Greenpoint waterfront. When I came home that day the fire was still burning and you could see black smoke roiling the air above, that lasted a few days.
After hurricane Sandy the first trip across was bizarre, seeing lower Manhattan in the dark.
Sometimes I got lucky and caught a Montauk-bound floatplane clawing for altitude before it hit the bridge, no one else notices things like that.
And I always saw the loft building on Berry street where I lived briefly with my first wife before we were married.
The daily trips over the bridge reminded me that I live in a great and beautiful city, something you don’t get riding the C train underground. But I could always go back and visit, can’t I?
The move was stressful and exhausting. Danusia told me yesterday that the three most stressful things humans deal with are in order of importance,
1. The death of a loved one.
And there we are! BTW, I’ve gone through all three in the past 14 years, and moved three times.
The 8 ½ years were a record for me, the longest I ever lived in one place before (outside of my parent’s home which doesn’t count as my responsibility) was the 7 years we lived on Guernsey Street in Greenpoint when my son was small. He and I were the last ones out, I don’t remember where my then wife was, but Javier stood in the doorway of the empty apartment and waved and said, “ Goodbye, Apartment!” So that’s what I said yesterday when I closed that door for the last time.
When we were packing I found a bag of coins in one of the closets, well, I always knew it was there but didn’t pay much attention to it, just occasionally dumped a full jar or ceramic bowl of change into it, and I weighed it. The bag weighed 38 plus pounds, and I didn’t want to carry it up five flights of stairs to our new apartment. We took it to TD bank where Danusia has an account, and it yielded almost $400. I think it took about 10 years to fill that bag.
My new neighborhood is a lot greener than Broadway, cleaner as well. But it is a little scary; this is after all, Harlem.
When I was young Harlem was not a place for anyone that was not black, or African-American, if you prefer. That has changed, and I shouldn’t feel afraid or uncomfortable, but I do. But I think I’ll get over it. There is a very beautiful cemetery a block away, and some nice tree lined streets if you stay off of Amsterdam Ave.
154th Street has some beautiful brownstones and townhouses, and maybe one day we’ll live in one of them. I’d like that.
This is a large building with 60 units, and very integrated, with older black folks that have been here forever and younger white kids just starting out life in the big city. I guess we are somewhere in between, Danusia and I.
Since I moved out of the projects where I grew up, and then the Pratt dorm, I haven’t lived with a lot of people. I always lived in small 6 unit max buildings, so I’m not used to encountering a lot of neighbors. Most of the ones I’ve encountered so far do the New York thing of ignoring you and avoiding eye contact.
I always say hello, and I’ll keep doing it. Maybe some will respond in kind one day.
This place is a lot smaller; we got rid of an incredible amount of junk and furniture, and are finding more things to get rid of. It’s like the old saying; you can’t stuff 10 pounds of shit into a 2-pound bag.
Right now there is hardly a place to step in here, but after we throw some more stuff away and unpack and sort, I think this will turn out to be a very cozy place indeed. After all, Danusia and me live here now.