Tuesday, February 15, 2005


One of the cute, young, bright-eyed assistants in our office signed up for her first sublet apartment in New York this week. Her enthusiasm was contagious. I couldn’t help but get a little misty-eyed as she shared her shady story involving a cash deposit exchange with her future landlord in the dimly lit hallway of her new apartment on a vegetarian’s only floor in the East Village.

It flashed me back to when I was her age. With no immediate plans of employment following graduation, my best friend from Atlanta and I decided to relocate to my parent’s house by the beach and work on our ‘big’ plans. Unfortunately, we worked more on our tans and before we knew it it was almost September and time to give up our bullshit jobs at dueling small town bakeries (her bakery more Lion King themed cakes in nature-mine chocolate dipped biscotti) and scope out our next destination.

Just in time an old friend Hannah that I’d interned with at PAPER magazine called me to let me know of a sublet available on West 4th Street Between First and Second Avenue. It sounded like a steal but she needed two roommates. Perfect. Hannah hadn’t looked at the apartment yet but from the ad she said it sounded “really, really nice”.

The plan seemed reasonable to us-gather $800 in cash for the deposit and go into the city to sign some 'paperwork' which acutally ended up being a 'contract' of terms on a paper napkin. If you could have seen the look on my poor parent's faces when I broke the news of my sketchy plans. My father reminded me that the only thing he recalled me ever signing my name to was a postcard for a Rolling Stone subscription. And my check bounced.

In the end our sublet experience was a fairly positive one and I look back on it with fond memories despite it's downfalls. The bad-A six floor walk-up smelling of curry, no A/C in the gazillion degree summer and the jazz trumpet player who played at all hours of the night. The good-the fact the owners were artists and had paintings on the wall, the big window in my room (aka a walk-in closet) with a tiny view of bustling 4th Street and my tiny desk I set up where I was able to write and draw and watercolor and smoke out my window. Most of all it was my first sublet and I finally felt like a real New Yorker.


At 3:31 PM, Blogger ica said...

"Vegetarian only" floor? I've never heard of such a thing! That sounds awesome.

At 3:34 PM, Blogger lynn said...

retrospect mellows. thank heavens.
my stories have others blanching in horror, and have me starry-eyed with nostalgia: the flat, the sharers, the landlord, the neighbours (good god, the neighbours!).
those were the days.

At 8:36 PM, Blogger Medjool said...

Aww. You're making me nostalgic for my first apartment in Philadelphia. Things were a little different there, though - my friends and I had a 2-story place with a rooftop we could climb out on for a smoke -$300 a month, not bad! Too bad my first job couldn't even cover that....

At 12:03 AM, Blogger Infrangible said...

The bad... the good... it's all there in my first E. Village apartment (3rdnd between 1st and 2nd) as well. Love it.

At 1:51 PM, Blogger pinkpelvis said...

I guess I'm still muddling through the New York share stories, I exchanged a roomie who liked to dip tofu in ketchup and kept two pet rats in a fish tank in her room for 3 Colombians 'flatmates' (doesn't that sound more cosmopolitan) and 2 Jehovah's witness landlords below my bedroom. FYI their gifted literature is quite informative.

At 10:29 PM, Blogger john_m_burt said...

I live in Corvallis, Oregon, and a farther cry from New York would be difficult, but I am reminded of the funky building down by the Willamette River known as "the building where everybody used to live". It's not true that everyonein Corvallis has lived there at one time or another, but I think everyone knows someone who has lived there.

At 11:30 PM, Blogger raul said...

This story reminds me of an old girlfriend's first apartment in the same neighborhood. One day water started coming through the ceiling. An addict 2 floors up had fatally ODed in his bathtub and the dripping water had to flood over before anyone noticed. The girl I was dating looked at this misfortune as an opportunity and contacted the landlord immediately. Bigger apt, rent reduced by 50%. She was in within the week.

I never used that tub.

(found your site via flickr btw. I'm themexican over there)

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