The day I decided to move in with my friend Blair, I’d been apartment-hunting for a few weeks, taking the train into Manhattan from Connecticut, sometimes sleeping over at Blair’s place on the Lower East Side. I’d been having a sitcom-worthy search: a guy with handcuffs on his walls, a woman with a walk-in closet, a man who was looking for a bed-mate instead of a room mate …
Blair had two room mates in her loft: Adelaida, a vegan chef who cooked up huge pots full of wholesome goodness on a regular basis, and Ricky D, a coked-up bar tender with spiky, peroxided hair and one of those long vintage overcoats Canal Jeans used to be famous for. About halfway through my search, Adelaida announced that she was moving out. Blair suggested I take the room, but I wasn’t ready to say yes. I worried that living together would mess with the delicate balance of our friendship.
I got to Blair’s late on a Friday night to be ready for a Saturday full of potential apartments. I got up early and saw:
- a lovely place that had lots of room, lots of light, lots of closets … and a beautiful man who wanted me to be his beard
- a creepy older man who answered the door in his underwear and tried to pull me inside as I backed away
- a kindergarten teacher who had a teenty tiny, cramped little space and who thought I could get a cot — not a real bed, but a cot, something that could be moved out of the way every morning — and set up right beside her bed
- a perfectly sane-seeming man who very apologetically told me he’d rented the room to the woman I’d just passed in the hall … the one with the big, smug smile on [sigh]
- a perfectly sane-seeming woman who just had a little issue with racial profiling: she didn’t want to have to worry about ‘drugs and all that,’ so she wouldn’t be renting to me …
I left that building and found a pay phone so I could check in with Blair about plans for dinner. After listening to the catalog of places I wouldn’t be living, she reminded me that she’d have an empty bedroom in another couple of weeks … and I decided to take it.
We went out for a late-late dinner with Ricky D so he and I could start to get to know each other. Ricky suggested we go dancing to celebrate our new trio. We walked to a club called The World. This club was straight out of a stereotype: red velvet ropes, slick guys on the door picking beautiful-people from the throng clamoring to get in. Kind of a joke that I would be there, but the bigger joke was having the guy at the door look across the crowd and pick Ricky, Blair and me and wave us inside. That will surely be the one time in my life that I get to walk through a crowd of people and saunter past the red rope and into some exclusive joint. I won’t lie: it was fun.
Inside there were two floors of loud music and too-cool people in skinny jeans and glittery jewelry. We danced upstairs for a while, then went to sit downstairs and do some people-watching. The first floor was lit up bright and hung with lots of crystal chandeliers. We got seats at a table, drank wine and watched the scene … and I watched the chandelier over our heads. The dancing on the second floor was so fierce, all the chandeliers where shaking violently. Just as I was thinking that surely there was nothing to worry about, a little shower of crystals rained down on our table. No one was hurt, but we were all pretty surprised. I remember Ricky D laughing a little hysterically, picking up crystals and throwing them to (at?) people at other tables. I took one and slipped it in my purse. I took it home and hung it in my window like a suncatcher. I might have it still.
That was a crazy night, my introduction to living in “The City.” After dancing, we went to some after-hours bar where Ricky D knew the owner. We got back to the apartment as the sun was coming up and collapsed into sleep. I know I had some wacky notion that that was what my life would be like in New York, that somehow — without the help of the drugs Ricky D pumped himself full of — I would maintain such a non-standard lifestyle. As if.
is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers.