culture & community home & lifestyle

An Empire State of Mind (or: No Darling, THIS is a View)

by JoAnna — April 28, 2015

It’s hard to believe it has been one month since I moved. Exactly 30 days have passed since my belongings left behind the threshold of one home and crossed over into another. Because of travel/work commitments however, I’ve only had about 15 days to familiarize myself with the place where I’ll spend the second phase of my Empire State existence. And although it has not been long period of time, it has been long enough for me to say: while it was a formidable pain in the ass to move my nomadic self again it was worth it. I say that because where I am now is utterly incredible. I wouldn’t go back to my former abode under any circumstances.

You couldn’t pay me enough.

I feel I can say that as I’ve had an exhausting and frustrating day and; yet, I don’t give a damn. The sounds of the street below don’t faze me, and neither does the whine of the chainsaw from the construction site down the street. I block out the urgent squeal of fire trucks and the incessant bleating of horns. Instead I sink into my couch and watch as the workday ends and and people hustle abour and Brooklyn starts to light up.

Looking out at my view I’m reminded of every hurdle that had to be jumped to secure this place. I’m also taken back to the rivers of fire crossed to get the apartment I was in before this one–one that was equally as nice as the one I’m in now but that missed an extra je ne sais quoi. I reflect on all the trouble it took to get from A to B and to move onto C, and as I do so, I smile.

Because the universe continues to delight me.

Anyhow, there was a point during my NYC house-hunting debacles when the SO and I schlepped to SoHo at the behest of a broker who insisted, “I’ve found you the apartment you didn’t even know you were looking for.” When we arrived at the building–tucked away on a gritty, yet fashionable, street–we climbed four flights in a newly refurbished stairwell and, I have to admit, I thought we were onto something. The smell of fresh paint lingered and the wood paneling shone, it looked so new. However, when we entered the apartment, the dream began to shatter; and it did so in such slow motion I wondered if I had accidentally taken the red pill for breakfast and gotten trapped in the Matrix.

Sure the paint was fresh and the parquet unscratched and every appliance in the kitchen had probably just come out of the box. Even the fixtures gleamed, you couldn’t lift a fingerprint if you tried. But in spite of the new fangled perfection the 1.5 bedroom apartment cost 3,900 USD a month and was the size of a shoebox.

Yes, a shoebox. At roughly 670 sq m, an exaggeration…that is not.

The front hallway collided with a kitchen almost as big as my wingspan—a kitchen crushed against a living room that could barely hold a coffee table and two chairs. When I took a look in the bedroom I’m pretty sure I turned my nose up in disgust as it was barely large enough to fit a double bed and, perhaps, one suitcase full of clothes. I am unable to recall the state of the bathroom (a sign it might have been so frightful I blocked it out entirely) and I’m pretty sure I walked right through the extra half room on my way to the “terrace” (essentially a ledge where I could put a pot of rosemary). The trip from one end of the apartment to the other took no less than seven of my long-stride steps, while the ceiling hung so low it seemed like the sky had begun to fall. In so many ways I felt like Alice in Wonderland after she licked the wrong side of the caterpillar’s mushroom: amazonian. Gargantuan. A giant in a too-small-place.

What really amused me however about the whole debacle was the smugness of the broker. His laissez-faire attitude that implied:  I found you the best place in the city, haven’t I? It was only when my SO and I started to converse quietly that he began to get nervous. Just as we were about to turn on our heels and run back to Brooklyn he jumped in front of us and proclaimed, “Wait! You must see this view before you go. You’ll be in love when you do.”

“What view is that?” I asked, apprehensive but curious nonetheless.

“This one,” he said, waving me over to a tiny window the size of my head. “Look, the apartment comes with a view…one of the Empire State Building.”

I walked over to the window and looked left and then right. I looked down and up and then bent my knees and craned my neck at such an unnatural angle I’m pretty sure I suffered a minor tear in my sternocleidomastoid. Try as I might I could not see the Empire State Building. It wasn’t until the broker smashed his cheek next to mine and shoved his finger in front of my face that my line of sight was drawn to a few centimetres of the iconic building. Tucked away behind at least 38,768* other constructions, it was cut off by the frame of the oh-so-tiny window. When I finally saw what he was referring to I recoiled sharply, gave my SO “the look” and raced out of there before another word could move past the scales lining the broker’s lips.

For several days after that experience I was dejected and a bit horrified as well. It was another crap viewing at an apartment that was not what we wanted at all. That was then however, as when I look upon it now it has turned into a most amusing experience. When all is said and done, I think of that broker with a touch of fondness. I thought of him as I went through the rigmarole of finding two apartments in this city and I think of him now as I sit in my living room with a sea of blue stretching out in front of me and the sun clobbering my face and a glass of wine on my mind and the echoes of New York circling my eardrums.

I think of him and I laugh. I laugh and wish we could meet. I’d like to have the chance to knock the smug frat-boy smile off his face–if only for a moment–by showing him the following picture and saying: “No, no, no darling…this is a view of the Empire State building.”

Empire State of Mind

*This number is made up. It’s probably more like 2,169 or something.



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