They tell me that everyone who moves to New York has their horror stories of trying to find a place to live. We can just call this Chapter 1.
After about a week of mining Craig’s List and contacting what felt like a hundred different people my trusty Uncle Matt accompanied me on my first actual viewing of an apartment in New Jersey. Up until this point I had been taking a recent string of synchronicities in my life as a sign that I was on the right track with this pretty huge life change – moving to New York and getting ready to start grad school. However when the bus carrying us to Jersey broke down in the Lincoln Tunnel my cosmic Magic Eight Ball’s take on the situation seemed to go quickly from “It is decidedly so” to “Outlook not so good.” Eventually the bus got moving again only to roll a few more feet then stop again. We kept this up gradually emerging from the tunnel and continued in this pattern inching our way towards our first scheduled stop.
More than a few deep breaths of stifled, un-air conditioned, bus air and a quick call to the landlord later, Matthew took the initiative to head to the front of the bus to talk to the driver to try to figure out how much further we had to go until our stop. I dutifully followed him up the aisle of the now herky-jerky bus silently praying that those bus-fairies my mom had told me about as a child would finally appear and push the bus to our stop.
I sat down a couple of seats behind the bus driver as Matthew asked him where our stop was. The bus driver, who could only speak a little English, threw up his hands as he gesticulated toward the dashboard of flashing lights, spitting out, “I don’t know! It – Uhhh. It - ” Matthew, sensing this was the best answer he would get, sat down next to me. We finally made it to the first stop. We sat for a while awaiting some kind of instruction as to what we would do next in order to reach our destination. Meanwhile the bus driver had put in a call to dispatch trying to explain our current situation. Through broken English he tried to explain to his superior on the other line what had happened with the bus. “No sir – it just stop. It just thrrrpppl!!” That was probably the moment when I knew we weren’t going to be making any other stops. We then got off of the bus to wait for the next one to come and pick us up. After about 20 minutes it finally showed, and we were once again on our way. We found the actual apartment without any more trouble. The one big advantage to this place was that it would allow me to have Ralphie, but by this point in the adventure it was clear that that didn’t matter since the commute itself – even without the bus-breakdown – was going to be too long for me to make it home in time to take care of him. The apartment was fine – very long and narrow, but it was on the ground-floor with the bedroom’s windows facing directly onto a main road, which would be uncomfortable for most people. It was only made worse by the fact that I have a fairly irrational fear of looking out ground-floor windows at night for fear of seeing a face looking back at me. (Don't ask me to explain it - but it totally freaks me out!) Also there was a mini-fridge rather than a grown-up, full-sized one.
We left knowing that my "Home Sweet Home" sign wouldn't be hanging up there and eventually wound our way through a rather delightfully eerie neighborhood to the nearest bus station and finally made our way back to Manhattan. In the end I felt fairly defeated, but happy to have something to get me started blogging again.