When I first moved into Manhattan over 10 years ago, I lived in a nunnery. A no-boys-allowed, chapel-on-the-first-floor, crucifix-at-every-turn nunnery. And not because I had the calling, but because Saint Mary’s Residence was on 72nd Street, Hunter College was on 68th, and I needed off-campus housing that was affordable with my part-time salary. I was elated when I got the call (from the residence office, not God) saying I was accepted and would have a room all to myself. I had shared a room with my sister since birth, so this first glimpse of independent living felt like hitting the lottery–no offense, Ker. I lived there for just the fall semester of senior year, but I’ll never forget that first phase of NYC living: the girl who lived on my floor and ate whole pomegranates on the common table, splattering juice everywhere; another girl who really loved Bush and showed me photos of her with Gavin Rossdale; the fact that we didn’t have cable, so I watched Dancing with the Stars on my little TV with bunny ears; the one time my friend Danielle came to visit and, while on the E train chatting, we missed the Lex Ave transfer and wound up in Queens. Oops. The place was spartan and strict, but I was living in The City, goddamnit! Spring semester I moved down to the Hunter Dorms on 25th Street and lived there until graduation. It was a fine experience, but kitchen roach pads crawling with bugs and rooms that were once part of Bellevue didn’t leave me feeling nostalgic for the place.
A few years later, after finding a full-time job downtown and saving up enough cash money, my friend Nicole and I moved from Long Island to East 93rd Street. I lived there for 3.3 years (pardon the specificity) and was completely smitten with the place. It was a five floor walk-up with no laundry, but this was 2010 and, with the city still reeling from the financial recession, rents were cheap AF. The apartment was completely renovated and had exceptional cabinet space. Like, there were two rows of kitchen cabinets stacked atop one another. We could have started a self storage side business. Nicole and I had an epic housewarming party and drank coffee together after dinner like an old married couple. Upon receiving a sweet job offer she couldn’t refuse, Nicole moved out on her own and my first CraigsList roomie moved in. Thankfully, she wasn’t a murderer, thief or drug addict. When she moved out to live with her boyfriend, my sister took her place. We had incredibly fun sleepovers with our cousins where we dragged the mattresses onto the living room floor, and Kerry had parties on the roof that turned me into June Cleaver, admonishing them for partying too close to the edge. (Literally.) Those were great years, made even greater by the fact that my best friends and I lived within a 10 block radius. From Christmas parties to Winter Storm Nemo to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we were all together in our corner of the Upper East Side.
Rising rents and a need for change ushered in the next chapter of my life, The Brooklyn Years. I’ve lived in Park Slope since 2013 and love it. Strangers and friends alike know I have a thing for brownstones, and this neighborhood is chock full of ‘em. It may not be as cool and hip as Greenpoint or Crown Heights or Bushwick, but it’s cozy and pretty and has an incredible park.
If you read my last post you’ll know I started the hunt for my own apartment a few months ago. After a myriad trials and tribulations, I found a beaut just 14 blocks north of my former apartment. It’s a 1 bedroom, well, probably technically a junior 1 bedroom since my full-size mattress peeks out of the doorframe, but it has great windows, an intact kitchen and a living room I could do cartwheels in if I wasn’t incredibly accident-prone. It’s a beautiful thing coming home to your own place after work or a night out. To sit on your couch in your underwear eating Triscuits and drinking wine just because. To have your girlfriends over for a catch-up session, making sure their glasses are full and the olive bowl is, too. Sure, there are the annoyances typical of old buildings: a sink that gets easily clogged, a bathroom that’s so small my butt hits the heating pipe when I bend over, the vague odor of food smells mixing in the hallway, but it’s home. My home.
I’ve always been an independent person, but living with roommates did come with a bounty of upsides. I’d like to briefly mention a few things I was grateful to have had in roommates:
- Someone to kill the roaches. Shout-out to Katie and Julie, sisters who killed roaches with their bare hands without flinching. (I had killed roaches myself before, but not with their brazen abandon.)
- Someone to be there when the carbon monoxide detector goes off and you call the fire department in the wee hours of the morning just in case. (This happened the first night my roommate Maddie moved in, and it was just a battery on the fritz. Again, oops.)
- Someone to go into your room because you’re certain you left the iron on. You didn’t. But thanks for checking, Julie.
- Someone to join you in watching The Bachelorette and a million hours of The Golden Girls, Parks and Rec or The Office. (Sometimes all in one
weekendnight. But especially during blizzards.)
- Someone to help you hang blinds in the kitchen. Reaching above your head is the worst.
In just a month of living here, however, I’ve killed a few bugs myself (no roaches, thankfully, but moths love flying into my living room), jerry-rigged closet shelving and assembled many unnecessarily complex pieces of Ikea furniture, even when the instruction manual had an X over the illustration of a single person and a check mark next to the one with two. (How rude?!) Tough stuff aside, I eagerly anticipate hosting shindigs in my new digs. Like the time I threw a Christmas party and did an impromptu tape dance in my kitchen. That was great.
I’ve come a long way since the days of Saint Mary’s Residence. I might still not have cable, but boys are definitely allowed.