Honey, I’m Home.

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 weekend night. 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.

The 7 Year Itch… or Something Like That

They say your body changes every 7 years. And by “they” I mean the allergist who told my cousin she is now highly allergic to her own dog, who has coincidently been a long-standing member of the family. (We still love you, Rocky.) Call it a sudden interest in numerology, but that fact–and others I’ll soon get to–have me obsessing with the number 7 and wondering if this purported change isn’t limited to just your physiology.

This January I will have lived in NYC, officially out of my parent’s house on Long Island, for 7 golden years. In some ways the past 7 years have flown by and in others it seems like just yesterday I was in Bed Bath & Beyond picking out a new shower curtain. I have been itching (7 year itching? corny? ok.) to get my own studio or one bedroom apartment for months now, but a recent change in my employment status has pushed the move to 2017. When that day comes–aside from mentally stressing about my suddenly increased Brooklyn rent–I anticipate feeling like a boss as I enter a new, even more independent stage of adulthood. Not having roommates to help you kill roaches in your room is a major change if I’ve ever heard one.

The 7 year hypothesis truly rears its head for me when you consider we’re entering the year 2017. I’m a perpetual optimist and pride myself on always seeing the good in situations. And while 2016 had many seriously awesome moments, notable mentions go to my first trip to LA and my cousin and BFF both having babies, it has been a MF BEAR of a year. From family ish to Electiongate–seriously, WTF happened on November 8th?–to me getting laid off from a job for the very first time, this year took pains to burn itself into my memory. I look to 2017 with a mix of nervous uncertainty (cough, POTUS-elect, cough) and excited optimism about starting a new gig. Ironically, the nation’s unemployment rate hits a 9-year low the year I find myself unemployed. Not funny, 2016.

And who knows, maybe this year will be the year that cupid points his arrow my way. I completely own being Miss. Independent and do that surrounded by the best family and friends, but it would be awesome if 2017 is the year I delete all my dating apps. Those data-draining, time-consuming dating apps, which I loathe and love at the same time. The apps with which “It’s Complicated” would be the appropriate relationship status. But if it isn’t, so be it.

I recently got my passport renewed, so 2017 may also be The Year of the Second Stamp, a couple of years (unfortunately not 7, which would have been poetic) since the first one was stamped by a lovely Bahamian customs agent. So whether this 7 year thing is legit or just a wive’s tale that happens to hold symbolism for me, it will be channelled into the makings a great year.

Where It All Began

When I first moved into my apartment in 2010, I didn’t realize I would be living just a few blocks from where both my maternal and paternal grandparents once lived. My mom’s mother spent her early childhood on East 116th Street and Pleasant Avenue, just a stone’s throw away from what is now a Target, while my dad’s parents both lived in the upper East 90’s.

As my family drove me home this Christmas, riding past the very familiar sights of 96th Street, my dad reminded me that his parents got married at a church I see almost every day between Lex and Park Avenues. A ways back, I wrote a blog entry about the library my dad’s mom Jessie went to as a child that is currently my neighborhood library. (A library I have now lost 2 books from, sorry NYPL!) Directly across the street from that 96th Street branch is St. Francis de Sales Catholic church, where they were married. I decided to take a peak inside today …

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Jessie Daley and Andrew Campbell tied the knot in 1941. I don’t have a photo handy of their wedding day, so I’ve included this one of my grandmother dancing with my dad at my parent’s wedding 40 years later in 1981. The next time I’m at my Aunt Rosie’s house (seen here on the left), I will stockpile some old photos to post about.

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After their wedding, they moved to the Bronx and later to Bellerose, Queens and had 6 children: Drew, Jane, Anne, Rosie, Thomas (my dad) and Edward. Andrew worked for Westinghouse Electric and Jessie was a housewife. Unfortunately, they both passed away before I was born. I would have loved to have heard stories about the changing neighborhood and the fact that a 2nd Avenue subway is STILL being worked on.

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While I may not be a churchgoer, I was immediately taken back by the beauty of this place. From the stained glass windows to the intricate Stations of the Cross carvings along the perimeter, there was an abundance of art to take in.

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St. Francis was built in 1903 and, naturally being my father’s daughter, I was interested in learning more about its history. The original parish was started in 1894 in the first floor of a house on 100th Street but soon proved to be too small and was moved to its current location.

I am eager to look through pictures from my grandparent’s wedding day and set them side by side the pictures I took today.

Until the next time!