If apartment hunting in New York is a marathon, moving is more of a triathlon. You spend endless amounts of time preparing: mapping the course, putting all of your ducks in a row, contacting the right people for support and training. In my case, I made 6 different possible schedules for the day-of, tweaking moving days, times, and modes of transportation. I also made the same amount of floor plans to make sure all of my belongings would fit into the apartment. If anyone deserved the label of obsessive compulsive, it was me. I am surprised my mom didn’t start ignoring my emails because of the sheer volume of inane questions I sent her way (should my night stand go on the left or right side of my bed?).
The elements of my move day consisted of the following:
- Get a car
- Pack up items from Queens apartment in car
- Drive car to Manhattan
- Move items from car to apartment
- Wait for bed to be delivered (somewhere within a 3-hour window, of which I would know the details 2 days before)
- Drive to SoHo to pick up mattress
- Bring mattress back to apartment
- Unpack boxes and set up life in new apartment
- Return car
On top of that, we had to factor in meals. Since we had the car all day (Zipcar weekday flat rate), we decided to tack on a trip to Ikea in Brooklyn. With this schedule, I drove from Manhattan parking garage -> Queens apartment -> Manhattan apartment -> further downtown -> back to Manhattan apartment -> Ikea Brooklyn -> Queens to drop off friends and their Ikea purchases -> Manhattan parking garage again. One of my more ambitious plans.
It was an incredibly long day. I was on a sleep deficit from late nights packing and showing visiting friends around the city. It was also an excessive amount of driving in New York City (from 8:30am to 7:30pm), and by the end of the day it was easy to make mistakes, further exacerbating everyone’s patience. I nearly passed out in Ikea from the concoction of exhaustion and too many meatballs. In fact, I hadn’t been eating well all week — getting takeout so that I could spend more time packing instead of cooking. Also, I lost the Zipcar keys for about 30 minutes, only to find them in a boot packed in an open box. Finding it was a miracle. I was almost in tears, and it had started drizzling — the trappings of any tragic movie scene. At the end of the day, with J’s phone dead and mine at 5% battery, we had to send an emergency text to Zipcar to extend the reservation by 30 minutes because traffic was so bad we were easily going to be late to returning the car. I had also accidentally locked my roommate out of the apartment and had to send a text telling her we were running late, just as my phone died.
But I must admit, as a whole the day went smoothly. I had packed everything well — most boxes clearly labeled and sealed tightly. Zipcar was a breeze and the garage was about 2 blocks from my apartment, giving us a nearby parking space when all of the street parking was taken. The seats of the Chrysler Town & Country folded down, giving us more than enough space for 4 passengers and all of my worldly belongings. J served as my co-pilot for the day. He’s a pro at navigating the streets (being a native New Yorker), and a clear, patient direction-giver. I had two amazing friends who volunteered to help me move (I didn’t even have to ask!). Those extra hands were critical. In truth, we were done with the bulk of moving by noon, and it couldn’t have happened without everyone’s combined effort and enthusiasm.
Side note: that next weekend I went to Pennsylvania with my roommate, where we picked up dishes, utensils, a table, sofa, and other shared living items from her generous parents. We then spent another day moving things into the apartment (including a two-hour double-parking stint with a U-Haul trailer, in which J had to prevent a drunk pedestrian from trying to climb into the car). And then there was the unpacking phase of that whole process. Like I said – Triathlon.
Because of the billion floor plans I had made and the month of shopping leading up to the move, it didn’t take me long to set up my room. It’s a simple, small space but I love it. I still can’t believe I live here, in Manhattan, in this neighborhood. I feel like I’m subletting, living someone else’s life. Do people actually live in this trendy place? Am I really only a 15 minute walk from work? It is unreal and weird.
I imagine, maybe, that this life is what transplants write about in their romantic odes to New York City. They always made me uncomfortable, with their narrow take on this complex place. Like they, with unacknowledged privilege, erase the humanity and struggle around them, carrying forth their own personal banner with the self-proclaimed stamp of city living.
At the same time, I am looking forward to the spontaneity that comes with living in such a hub of this great, dense island. I can’t wait for the adventures of this year, of seeing more friends and enjoying their company in and around this 400-something square foot home of mine. Maybe I am falling into the same traps, exhorting my life here, just to outgrow it someday and pass it on to the next bright-eyed young professional who will later reminisce about ‘those crazy years in that crazy city.’ Is it possible to live both with care and abandon? To take advantage of the opportunities of this space and time without treading on others? I can only hope to try.