Friday, December 27, 2013

Tails From The Road

or How to Move from California to New York in Six Months

I'm a New Yorker by birth, a Californian by choice. Six months back I was sitting in my sunny home in the Silicon Valley, looking out its big picture window traversed by an Asian pear tree and wondering how I could take everything I need and plop it in the middle of Manhattan Island. For almost thirty years, I'd tasted a great deal of what the Golden State had to offer but now I was dreaming of New York City.

My sunny home in the Silicon Valley, California

Dozens of curb appeal renovations, Craigslist offerings and garage sales later, the house was sold and my remaining possessions were in a pod traveling across the United States. On August 10, clutching our one-way tickets, Max and I took a town car to San Francisco International Airport, plopped our butts in first class seats and left California for the bright lights of Broadway. Thirty years ago, I moved to Los Angeles because I couldn't afford to live in New York City and now I was returning ... A STAR!

Within days of arriving, I had my first appointment to see my first apartment in my first building. When I walked into the second floor Upper East Side studio with an alcove, I was faced with a wall of windows traversed by a sidewalk tree in front of the studio's outdoor balcony which opened onto 1st Avenue. There were no pears but Apartment 2D addressed every item on my Apartment Wants list and threw in a 24 hour doorman to boot! I saw options but kept going back to 2D so I made an offer the seller couldn't refuse and soon found myself under contract to become an officer for a corporation in which I own the number of shares that is equal to the square footage of an actual co-op apartment in New York City.

Then the shit hit the fan!

When you get back to your blue-blooded sisters would you tell them that
the Ricardo/Mertz investigating committee looked you over and
we have no desire to join your phony baloney club!

Buying property in New York City is akin to Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz trying to get into the Society Matrons League; you must be approved before you can proceed. (See I Love Lucy S01E25 Pioneer Women.) In life, the judgment process includes approval of your financials by the building's board of directors (submitted in a board package), and a board interview in which you meet board members for a two (or more) on one. I signed the contract for Apartment 2D on September 12, my board package was approved November 6, the board interview was on December 5 and I took possession of the apartment on December 20. That's 99 days with nothing but a computer, a suitcase, a rental car and a Jack Russell Terrier in the back seat wanting a treat.


I worked every weekday but, for all intents and purposes, I was homeless. So like a good Jew, I wandered ... and worried that the deal would fall through.
  • Rented three cars, two of which were Hyundais, and one of which was sideswiped by my best friend. I feigned ignorance and have yet to receive a bill.
  • Drove up and down the East Coast, going over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, visiting Savannah, and enjoying quality time with family in Florida.
  • Learned to fly on my bicycle.
  • Experienced the horror of life in the hamlet of Holbrook - including an eviction, along with my brother, from his marriage home of 12 years (where I'd been bunking) by his (soon to be ex) wife. My brother's happier than I've seen him in years!
  • Lived off the breakfast buffets of any number of hotels.
  • Yelped (almost) every cemetery up and down the East Coast. Good places to walk Max and see ghosts but no peeing on the headstones. Bad karma.
  • Spent $1200 for two nights in a very chic hotel off Central Park for Max's first trip to New York City. This was on November 25 for a board interview scheduled the next day but postponed five hours before the allotted time because of a fire that lead to the building's evacuation.
A week and a half after the postponed board interview, on December 5, I received a phone call that the new board interview was scheduled for that night at 7:00 PM. It was 2:00 PM and I was in Albany, bunking with friends in their reconverted 19th century tavern (where I learned the fine art of making log fires in the kitchen's wood stove). I showered, changed, grabbed the suitcase and computer, threw Max in the car, drove 138 miles to New York City, and got there with time to spare. The board interview was about 20 minutes long, and conducted by two gentlemen. We discussed my work, courteousness, California, neighbors, the building, respect, New York City, and Max - who was quietly lying under the conference table. I was notified the following day that the sale was approved. Exactly two weeks later I had the keys to my light and airy new studio with an alcove on the Upper East Side of Manhattan...and a home.

OK, maybe it was just a parody of homelessness but it felt weird.

1 comment:

  1. Thx for the story of your move. I suspect that it was more frustrating than your humorous recounting suggested. Congrats! The journey is finally over and you and Max are home!!