Sunday, August 5, 2012

Apartment hunting in NYC

If you've ever lived in NY or have tried to find a place to live in NY you will understand how intense and difficult it is. As a newly arrived family we have no records here. No way of proving we can pay rent. I don't understand how people can come over and begin a life. I guess it's all about living with family and friends until you are established but then you need to be making 36 times what the rent is. When rents are at least 2000 and that's for a small place, that's a lot. So for us since we don't have 9-5 jobs with a pay stub and no record of income in the States we need a guarantor. That Guarantor needs to make 80 times what the rent is. Man, Daddy Warbucks where are you?????

We had been in our castle for a week and a half and now it was time to get out there and look. We had 4 1/2 weeks to find somewhere to call home. Somewhere where we could have our baby. The day was overwhelmingly hot and we stood outside the first building with hope. There was throw up outside the building, a firehouse across the way and a bar next door. It wasn't looking good for peace of sound but we were hopeful. The Super, 40 minutes late, showed us the "Large" 3 bedroom. I lived in New York for 17 years and so I know the way NY apartments used to be. They were never big but now they take studio apartments and chop them into 3 bedroom. We walked into the dark and tiny 3 bedroom apartment. As we looked around, I tried to imagine us living there and making it work. It was $4200. This was beyond our budget and yet and I thought, "Do we have other choices?" My heart was sinking and the pressure of finding our place to live was overwhelming. How could I make a place for my kids. There was hardly any room to walk. The Super kept telling us how large and quiet the place was, but on the first floor facing the street, I doubted it. We left and thanked him and I knew my husband was as worried as I was. As we saw the next few 2 or 3 bedroom apartments filled with students and their dirty dishes, laundry, beer bottles, and pin up girls, I began to wonder if there was a place for families in New York that rent. We were hot and tired and so I thought maybe we should go get something to eat. We were not far from Union Square park and a Whole Foods and figured a picnic would be good. As we walked into the whole foods we were taken aback by all the yummy looking bakery items, fruit, sushi and salad bar... "Everything would be OK", I thought. But as my daughters ran towards different items I found myself saying at every turn, that's too expensive. We settled on 4 slices of ham, some sushi rice wrapped in tofu and a smoothie. I longed for Thailand where the rent and food were cheap and I could feed my family without restrictions. But we were no longer there and we had left because we could not make money there and needed a different course for our lives. This was where we were and we needed to find a way to make it work not think about what we didn't have or what we did.

We walked across to the park and sat down where we could watch the men play with the over sized chess set. The girls were fascinated and didn't seem to notice what we had or didn't have to eat. We might not have a lot of money at the moment but our experiences were rich. Watching the chess players I began to remember that it is patience in life that helps you make the right move. We were only new here and we would need some time to find out place and make our move. I needed to think of this as a game and start to enjoy it rather then dread it. Each move would help us to the next step we just needed time and patience. For the moment we did have food and we did have a beautiful place to stay and I needed to remember that.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hello Manhattan

I feel as if it has only been moments since I have allowed myself to rest when I can hear little feet walking. I arise to find my youngest daughter looking for me. "Where were you mommy? Is it morning time?" It is only 4am and so I try to convince her to go back to sleep. I  bring her back to the bed where the rest of the family have been sleeping but as we arrive my other daughter also awakes. They are hungry and ready to go. It would take more energy to try to get them back to sleep, so I give in and as I do my husband awakes as well. Our bodies are telling us it is 9am, so why fight it. We all head down and begin our day. I am still nervous and ready to begin our lives in New York City. My husband has only found his feet and I begin having him move around suitcases up and down the stairs to the basement. I want to get on with it and try to make things happen. There is not much for children to play with in this house and the kids are getting curious as to what they can do. I am tense and wanting them to just sit and eat so I can quickly pack up and get out but they are kids and need to explore. So in between my frantic re-packing and moving, I run around trying to stop them from breaking anything. I am trying to be calm but it's no use. I need to get out. We decide to get out of Brooklyn immediately. We figure we'll take the subway and save money but when we look at what we need to take for the next 6 weeks, we let down our guard and allow ourselves to be treated to a taxi.

It is 8am and we head over the Brooklyn Bridge. Morning time in New York is always so serene for me. I love when the city is only just waking up and you feel like you have it all too yourself. It is a sunny Saturday in July and the water bellow the bridge is glistening and I can see the Statue of Liberty out to my left. I can feel her strength and the millions upon millions that have gone before me and my family, that have had the same journey and become better because of it. I can feel their strength and ask for guidance. When we touch down on the Manhattan side, I feel a sense of relief. I love all the boroughs of NYC but for me Manhattan means I've made it. I feel like I have been in a game of tag and now I've gotten to "Home Base".

We arrive at my clients apartment. She and her husband and kids have graciously lent us their beautiful penthouse apartment on Madison Ave, as they are away for the summer. I feel like Cinderella as we arrive. September 1st, I hear my fairy god mother say and the spell will be broken. So I must remember to enjoy the ball there's not much time. The doorman greats us and helps us with our bags. He does not seem to think it strange we are staying there. He does not know what we have or don't have in the bank. He is not judging us, only I am. So I let go of how and just enjoy. We get into the elevator and push PH. I have never been in a penthouse before I had met this client and I am excited to see Manhattan from the top. We open the door to our beautiful apartment and we are all bowled over at our lives. As I show the family around the girls immediately start unfolding every toy and game they see. It's like Christmas. and Santa has brought us a miracle. The apartment is warm and inviting and we immediately feel like home. I feel like I am floating and watching from above. I still can not believe this fairy tale but I delighted to watch my children and know that for the moment we are safe. We play all day in the apartment until the afternoon when we go to Central park to take in the beauty and fun of the playgrounds. "I live here", I keep saying to myself. "I live here." That night we celebrate with a delicious chocolate cake. It is our birthday, the birth of a new beginning.