Every time I tell Robert this story, he denies it happens. But the story is as thus: in the summer at party in Williamsburg, Robert entered late, and without introduction, walked right up to me and reached out to touch books on the shelf where I was standing.
“It’s so nice to be in a real home,” he said.
It was an interesting distinction. We were at a moderately sized studio in Williamsburg, nothing especially outstanding about the type of space, but yet, as he noted, there was something very homey and comfortable. There was some indescribable quality that made the apartment a “real home.”
For the past three months I have been searching for that very thing.
Two weekends ago I woke up in my Chelsea sublet for the last time. The past month I’ve been living life in the interlude. I’ve been waiting in a theater seat while two spotlights glow on a curtained stage, and the orchestra is still doing filler suites. There are lots of sweeping melodies that suggest what is to come, but for a whole month, I never really knew what was in Act II.
Around 8 am I struggled carrying the last of my belongings down the stairs of the sublet and stopped at the door. The super of the building, a tall, round man with white hair and implacable accent fake pouted. “We hate to see good ones go,” he said.
I hopped in a cab. Traffic stalled on 28th Street. I knew what I’d miss about being in Chelsea – the flowers on the streets, the proximity to my friends, and my work, and Union Square.
After arriving at my storage unit to meet my movers I took another cab up to my new home. We took the west side highway up to the end of Washington Heights. The Hudson was covered in ice. As soon as the driver took a right turn underneath the George Washington Bridge I entered “Act II”. The curtain now parted on wintery, Washington Heights. The setting now set, the interlude trailing off the page in pianissimo.
I had yet to see my new home in the daytime. The wood floors were shining; light was streaming in the uncovered windows, with a view to the courtyard and center of the building. There would be lots of things to see in the other apartments across the street. This was it, this was a real home.
By noon the move was completed. Amid a living room covered in boxes, I managed to find my bed linens and climb into bed for a long nap. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the arrival of a true, concrete thing in my life, then wrapped up in my own bed. My sleep was deep, not like the insomnia of the past few weeks. No longer did I need to wake up and ask a question. The conclusion was there, tucking me in, patting my head.
Integrating to a new neighborhood is an interesting practice. I’ve moved three times in New York City and haven’t devised the best way to do it. I went to the local grocery store over the weekend where my memory of Spanish escaped me. I’ve learned already one big “Don’t” – don’t order sushi. And two big “Do’s” – do go to the dollar stores and do frequent Harlem Public. My coffee shops, writing nooks and what have you are yet to be discovered. But I suppose that is part of the fun, a new thing.