Well, I finally did it. After spending the last two weeks of August flat broke and in a constant state of near-panic, I’ve finally gotten myself more-or-less settled into my own modest studio apartment in a quiet corner of Manhattan’s Hudson Heights neighborhood. With that, all my earthly belongings are now finally back under the same roof for the first time since June of last year. Let’s take a moment to recap this whole year-long moving process:
June 2007: Pack up my apartment in Chicago, and move most things into a nearby storage facility. The bare essentials will travel in the Jeep with me to New York, and I’ll have to come back for the rest of my stuff later. Travel to NYC, and get settled into a dorm room at Columbia while enrolled in the summer architecture studio.
July 2007: End up selling the Jeep for less than a third of what I was hoping to get for it. I guess that’s what happens when you try to sell a V8 Grand Cherokee while gas prices are skyrocketing. Meanwhile, begin searching frantically for a more permanent place to live in NYC.
August 2007: Move out of dorm room without having another housing situation lined up yet. Spend a few nights in a friend’s spare bedroom in Chinatown before subletting a co-worker’s studio apartment in Harlem for the remainder of the month. Continue looking for housing.
September 2007: Move into a share situation in the Bushwick neighborhood in Brooklyn. The neighborhood leaves a lot to be desired and the roommate has some OCD issues, but vow to grit teeth and tolerate it until I can get my own place.
Later in the month, fly back to Chicago and rent a moving truck to pick up the rest of my stuff. About half of it will go into the apartment in Bushwick, while the other half will go right back into storage elsewhere in Brooklyn.
March 2008: Quietly begin building up anger and resentment toward roommate as his OCD and lack of consideration threaten to send me into a rage on multiple occasions. Somehow manage to bite my tongue and keep the peace for the next several months.
May 2008: Begin saving money for my own apartment when roommate informs me that he’d like me to move out by the end of August.
June 2008: Break a molar during lunch break one day, and watch as the summer’s apartment savings end up going towards emergency dental bills.
July 2008: Start seriously looking for no-fee apartments, determined not to end up back in another roommate situation. Eventually come across a smallish studio in Hudson Heights that, while far from perfect, is at least in a decent building in a much better neighborhood, with a much shorter commute. Spend the next few days scraping together every last penny to put down a deposit for it.
August 2008: After a few tense days waiting to hear back about whether I’ve been approved or not, make arrangements to hand over yet more money, sign the lease, and pick up the keys.
With no money left in the bank and the roommate demanding an unusually hefty sum for the final utility bill, paying for the actual move becomes a major challenge. Begin the slow process of moving by carrying a few things each day to the new apartment on the subway. Over the course of a week, this turns into a pretty good amount of stuff. This becomes my first move in which a healthy percentage of my household is transported via subway train.
Without enough money to do the proper thing and rent a Penske truck, end up renting a Ford Escape through Zipcar for a few hours and spend a Saturday evening getting as much stuff as possible out of the apartment in Bushwick and into the new place. Not everything fits, but it’s enough that I can now start sleeping at the new apartment. Meanwhile, beg a friend from the cathedral for the use of his own Jeep Grand Cherokee for moving the rest of my stuff.
Thursday, August 28th: Load up the rest of the stuff from the apartment in Bushwick. Turn in keys to roommate, along with post-dated check for the utilities.
Friday, August 29th: Make first trip from storage facility in Ridgewood.
Saturday, August 30th: Make second and final trip from storage facility. At this point the move is officially complete, although there’s still lots of unpacking and assembly left to do. Remainder of day Saturday is spent returning the favor to my friend by driving with him up to White Plains to pick up two pieces of furniture from Crate & Barrel, and helping him move the pieces into his 5th floor walk-up apartment.
First week of September 2008: Put a stop payment order on the check for the utilities when I do some research and discover my ex-roommate has been charging me for his own landline phone service for the past year. Send a new check in a much smaller amount to former roommate, along with a sternly-worded letter explaining my actions. Wait for shit to hit the fan, but try to remain calm in the knowledge that there’s not much he can really do about it at this point, short of pulling me into a dark alley and beating the crap out of me (which still wouldn’t get him the money). Luckily, he doesn’t know my new address, and there aren’t many dark alleys in Manhattan.
I’ve now been living in the new place for about a month, and things are going reasonably well. For the most part, my stuff is unpacked and the apartment pretty much feels like a real home instead of a self-storage locker filled with boxes and disassembled furniture. There are still a few odds and ends to get set up, but nothing critical. My commute is much shorter and more direct than before, and while I can still occasionally hear some obnoxious street noise from Broadway, it’s a tiny fraction of what I had to put up with every night in Brooklyn. So far I haven’t had any issues with noisy neighbors; as opposed to the ghetto trash and douchebag hipsters out in Bushwick, this neighborhood is mainly middle-class professionals and some Orthodox Jewish families. I’d much rather be in a one-bedroom apartment and able to sleep on a real bed instead of a futon, but I keep reminding myself that I’m not in a position to be very picky about my housing options right now. The one-bedroom apartment will have to wait a while longer.