In mid-July, my boyfriend and I escaped the cold weather and went to grab pancakes for dinner at a local diner in the East Village. We had just left a happy hour and I was incredibly drunk and needed to eat something substantial. I wanted to talk to him about something, but had always been afraid. This is when I was happy for the courage you can only get from drinking four vodka tonics before 7pm.
For the past few weeks leading up to that night, I had been thinking a lot about us moving in together. I mean, it made sense – both of our leases were ending that summer, we had been together for over a year already, and it didn’t make sense for us to live so far apart. I just didn’t know how to approach the subject. I wasn’t even sure if this was an idea that had crossed his mind. Will I make an ass out of myself if I ask? Will he shoot me down and say no?
My mind filled with all of the possible 'what-if’s' the night may bring. I figured maybe I better wait until April where I can just text him, “So I was thinking we should move in together…thoughts?” and if he says “Absolutely not!” I could respond with, “APRIL FOOLS! Got ya good this time, buddy!” and never discuss the topic again.
But I knew that I couldn’t wait that long.
After we ordered, he and I were discussing the upcoming weekend. We had to be in Long Island on Saturday and New Jersey on Sunday and we needed to figure out whose house to stay over at on which night. It was becoming such a hassle. “Well, we can stay at my place in Queens Friday night, drive from Long Island to Staten Island on Saturday night, head to Jersey on Sunday morning and then I will take the ferry back that night.” Exhausted yet? Well, this was a conversation we had almost every week. Without any thought and with a mouth full of pancakes, I just blurted out, “Ugh, wouldn’t it be easier if we just lived together?”
He took a bite of his feta cheese omelet while the question I proposed just lingered in the air. Did he not hear me? I thought. And even worse, did I need to ask it again? Luckily, after a few bites, he picked his head up and said, “Ya know, I was just thinking the same thing.”
And just like that, over pancakes in a diner on Avenue A, we decided to move in together. (a la Carrie Bradshaw)
I would like to say that the hard part was over, but you would only believe that if you’ve never tried looking for an apartment in New York City. Up to this point, I had it easy when it came looking for a place to live. Both apartments I had lived in up here came from word of mouth and knowing someone who needed a roommate. But this time it was different. We needed to 1. Decide on which borough to live in (he wanted Brooklyn, I wanted to Queens) 2. Figure out how much we wanted to spend 3. Find a trust-worthy broker that wasn’t going to cost us an arm and a leg.
Sounds easy, right?
Wrong. So so wrong.
Numbers 1 and 2 turned out to be pretty easy. We agreed upon Astoria because it had more options and was a closer commute for the two of us to get to work and we both wanted to be paying less than what we were paying already. But finding a broker that was normal, answered emails, and gave a shit was turning out to be a nightmare.
Before we knew it, it was the first week of June and we hadn’t even looked at a place to live, let alone pack up a box or have any options. We scoured Naked Apartments, Street Easy and Craigslist all day, every day – but either nothing was available for July 1st, or nowhere near any form of public transportation, or the rent was exceedingly too high.
One night, I went crazy and called up every broker I could find online and made back-to-back-to-back appointments with them to see as many apartments as I could. The first apartment didn’t have any closets – anywhere. The second was on the fifth floor of a walk-up building. And the last one didn’t even look remotely close to the pictures online - the ad literally had pictures stolen from Google images of an apartment in Michigan. I was beginning to get discouraged.
I knew that we needed to find something soon because we were going to Florida for a week and then I had to travel for work and then the day I came back, my boyfriend had to travel for work. So that left us with exactly 8 days in the entire month to find something.
On June 7th, my boyfriend came to Astoria where we were going to relax and go out to dinner for his birthday. On the train home, I received a text message from a broker saying he had thirty minutes free right away to show me this one apartment. I texted my boyfriend to meet me there as fast as he could.
We both had zero expectations and, honestly, just wanted to go to dinner and stuff our faces with wine and cheese. But when we walked into the apartment, we both looked at each other and shrugged. A good shrug, not a bad shrug. Like the shrug you do when you are in a city you’ve never been before and you are starving and you walk into this little café and it’s kind of empty, but you see they have homemade mozzarella sticks on the menu and the air conditioning is blasting so you both agree to take a chance and eat there (even though there is a giant B on the window). Ya know, that type of shrug.
When we got downstairs, we asked the broker what we needed to do to secure that apartment and he responded with: tax returns from the previous 4 years, credit reports, references from our previous 2 landlords, 2 months’ worth of pay stubs, the tusks of a wooly mammoth, and the security deposit, broker fee and first month’s rent – all in cash.
We went to dinner that night trying to decide if it was worth it. Did we actually even like the apartment? Or were we just tired of looking? The location and price worked out, there was a lot of storage and closets, the building was charming and the floor plan was unique. We ultimately decided that yes, this apartment – this apartment we saw for a total of 2 minutes – would be our home for (at least) the next year.
The next day we flew to Florida for a week-long vacation where my boyfriend met my parents (more on that in a future post) and then got back to reality and began packing up our lives into overpriced cardboard boxes and got ready for the move. And just like that, July 1st was upon us and it was moving day.
To be continued…