Monday, August 15, 2011

Living in New York: The First Generation




                More years ago than I will confess to, I lived in Manhattan. My first apartment was a one and a half bedroom apartment over a greasy spoon “restaurant” in what is now even trendier SoHo.  Yes, I said one and a half bedrooms.  The “second” bedroom was the equivalent of a miniscule closet with a window. Realtors tell me that a closet and a window are the criteria for a bedroom. The room was about eight feet long and four feet wide.  It could fit a twin bed (cozy romance) and a three-quarter size dresser.  The half bedroom window opened onto the street that hosted the Saint Anthony’s Feast every summer.  The clam concession was right under the window.  I will never forget the smell of day-old clam trash on a hot summer morning. The sound of the restaurant owner with his hose spraying down the sidewalk and the grinding of the crusher at the back of the trash truck was a summer symphony.  It’s a wonder I can still eat linguini with clam sauce.
                Three of us shared the apartment with the plan of rotating the privilege of occupying the half bedroom.  The apartment did have some amazing features beyond its location.  There were hardwood floors throughout, an exposed brick wall with a WORKING fireplace and easy access to tar beach.  For those who don’t know what that is: it is the flat tar-covered roof of a building and is suitable for sun-bathing and cooking raw eggs without a fire.  I don’t remember how we found this apartment.  I was fortunate to have a pit-bull of a roommate who basically did all the legwork and called me to tell me where to be and when.  She was a full-time graduate student and I worked full-time so I appreciated her availability and tenacity.  Our first third roommate was a fashion design student and wannabe model, but that’s another story.
                There were also our weekly visitors. The owner of the greasy spoon was a conscientious restaurateur.  As he was closed every Monday, he would dutifully set off the roach bombs on Sunday night.  So each Sunday evening as the first of the roommates would arrive home and open the door, the legal tenant would be greeted by an undulating floor and skittering sink as all roaches from downstairs fled to our apartment to evade being gassed.  I suspect Steven Spielberg may have lived there once and used this vision in Indiana Jones with snakes as a fill-in.
                It did get better.  I later moved to a rent stabilized apartment around the corner.  It was very safe.  The Italian superintendent sat in the front ground floor window day after day watching.  I don’t think she  could do anything else as The Biggest Loser wasn’t even a gleam in Jillian Michael’s eye--she might still have been in Pampers, in fact.  Also across the street was a very “profitable” candy store that hadn’t sold a candy bar since the Eisenhower Administration and an Italian-American Social Club, with Honorary President and frequent visitor, John Gotti.
                So with this as my personal experience, I spent several days this week with my oldest daughter beginning her twenty-something adventure in NYC apartment hunting. This is a whole new adventure.
               
                To be continued…..