I moved to New York in November of 1997.
I hade been here one month prior for a total of three days as the Company I was working for wanted to make sure the City and I liked each other! Imagine that! It was love at first sight!!
It wasn’t difficult anyway to fall in love with it since during my first visit they took me to the best restaurants, the best hang-out places and most important of all, my work place was in one of the happening streets of Manhattan and I was going to be Helen’s assistant, the general manager of the store and absolutely adorable person. The streets were always busy, the public transportation efficient and best part of all, I could walk everywhere! The only thing I had to take care of at this point was a place to live. I didn’t know the city, I had not clue where the different neighborhoods were and above all, I wouldn’t have been able to choose where to live. I asked an Italian friend of mine, who I had met in Seattle and was now living in New York, for some advice.
“Get a place in the Upper East Side. It’s a save and clean place and it’s very close to your work place. You cannot get wrong”
New York Fashion District
My first apartment was conveniently located few steps from Central Park and three blocks from my job, in one of the most prestigious areas of Manhattan, on the fifth floor of what used to be an office building. The prominent location did not make it any bigger nor any cheaper and when my furniture from Seattle arrived, I was able to keep only the essential things. The entrance door opened up on a small corridor: the bathroom was on the left (Smaaallll!!! So small that once I was inside I had to smear myself on the wall in order to close the door!), followed by an accordion door that used to hide the kitchen, which had a single dose fridge, located below a single dose sink and next to the single dose stove. It was a place for a SINGLE person after all!! Once I passed the ‘kitchen corner” I found myself in the “living area” o “bedroom”, depending on the time of the day: it was a room that barely fit my full size bed, my TV on top of a shelf, a chair and later on a twin sizes futon, just in case of a guest with whom I had to have a very close relationship in order to share such an intimate space. The two big windows next to my bed overlooked 71st Street and from there I could see the magnificent Brownstones, the old buildings across the street from me that were often home to a single family, definitely wealthier than me. I was incredibly proud of my little space though.
It was the very first time in my life I was living by myself, no family members, no roommates. I decided it was going to be this way as it was time for me to “grow up”. People saying that New York is a cold and aloof city don’t really know New York. This city is home to millions of faces, millions of lives and millions of stories. There is at least one person from each single country on earth and each one of us has something to tell, each one of us has a little story and a place that is still home on the other side of the world and that is still very close to our hearts. This is a city with rhythm and vibe. Some call it chaotic, for others it is vital. There are people that would never be able to live here; there are people that would never be able to live anywhere else. It becomes part of you, in you blood, in your mind and in your heart that you cannot do without it anymore.
New York Fashion District
The city is divided in five boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Manhattan is then divided in three major areas: Downtown (the southern part where the Twin Tower used to be), Midtown, the middle part and Uptown in the north. Central Park and Fifth Avenue separate the East Side from the West Side but since all the streets are parallel and perpendicular to each other and also numbered, it’s almost impossible to get lost here. During the first few weeks in Manhattan, I used to take cabs everywhere as the subway terrified me. I think it was because of all the movies that had also captivated my father and that had left a mark on me! After a while I realized I needed three salaries in order to keep up with this life style and I chose to go back to be a mere mortal, like everybody else!
New York subway is a whirlwind of characters and the most amazing thing is that even the weirdest thing seems normal, since everybody is pretty much used to strangeness here. So every morning I say hi to the man that regularly walks up and down on 42nd street wearing a skeleton costume (yes, a black cat-suite with fluorescent skeleton drown on it!), as we’ve always known each other:
“How is it going?”
“It’s going well”.
My father would have said “Crazy stuff!” and this time he would have been right!