So we’d been planning the move to NYC for weeks. Truth is we’ve got pretty good at down-sizing and this was a good opportunity to shed more and let Emma and Rebecca have some of our larger furniture. We sold off a load of things on eBay and even got some cash for all our DVDs, CDs etc. We hired a big transit then got all the rest of our stuff moved to a storage unit at Big Yellow. We literally got everything just squeezed into this 6×5′ box. The rest of our possessions were tightly packed into 3 mighty suitcases and two large carry on’s.
Sarah and E’s packing and removals were vastly more complex – some stuff was being shipped over to the US, some into storage, some to friends and family, other stuff destined for charity shops and eBay and quite a lot headed for the municipal tip (which on the week-day E headed there with a van load, was closed for some bloody reason). Anyway it went to the wire but it all got moved.
We did all the closure things at our fab apartment, which we said tarrah to with a heavy heart to be honest. We flew with Virgin Airways a few days before S&E and the boys to get things ready over in the US. The check-in girl was brilliantly helpful especially over our excess weight (luggage not personal) and the flight itself was excellent – I love those Virgin girls. You know what I mean. The only issues were a slight contratemps on the plane between two guys adjacent to us – the result being one, the awkward fidgety one, being moved to the vacant seat in front of Carol and promptly shoving his seat back fully. Annoying. It was bearable only because it was the last hour of the flight. We arrived ahead of schedule – hurrah – but then had to sit for an hour on the tarmac waiting for our gate to become available – grrr. It then took another hour to clear immigration which was a pisser. Welcome to JFK – it never changes.
We got a large cab for all the luggage which must have done his suspension because we had a real bone-shaker ride into Manhattan and up to Harlem. Road surface quality over here would make a Frenchman cry. It was almost 10pm local time (3 o’clock in the morning according to our body clocks) when we arrived at our destination – a lovely brownstone building on west 123rd street. First impressions were great. Then I noticed the flight of steps up to the door and the even longer flight beyond the front door leading up to the apartment. Those 5 massive cases/bags suddenly felt about twice as heavy. Anyway we heaved it all up and inside and unpacked over the next hour or so.
Because it was later than we anticipated arriving the landlord hadn’t been able to meet us – he texted us the access code. Maybe it was because we were tired but we found issue with a number of things inside the apartment; the place hadn’t been professionally cleaned (at least not to the standard required in London), there were some pretty essential items missing (eg toaster, kettle, wine glasses etc) not least some toilet rolls and a curtain for the window in our bedroom. There was absolutely nothing in the fridge either for us have a drink etc. I popped down to the local corner deli. Now that may sound trendy and cute but in Harlem these places aren’t very pretty as you an see from the inviting image of the entrance way taken in daylight. So you can imagine how alluring the place is at 10pm ….
and as well as being dingy and run down, it was full of guys chewing the street fat amidst a fug of exotic aromas that suggested that Bob Markley and all the Wailers had been having a swell party there.
Anyway I ploughed on, found the water, milk and bread without a problem. But couldn’t see any toilet rolls along the household stuff aisle so I popped through the throng up to the counter and asked the guy behind there, if he could tell me where I might be able to find the loo rolls. It couldn’t have sounded more Brideshead Revisited if I’d tried. The conversation stopped and everyone was focused on me. You from England bub? The guy asked. Yup, from brassy Brentford. I’m sure they had no idea where TW8 was but they seemed pleased with the answer. Down aisle 1 above the beer cabinets came the direction. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate spot I said and it drew a small round of appreciation from the bros. Ha! I decided there and then that I like it here.
Next day we had the landlord round for a chat about stuff. He took on board everything apart from my issue about nothing being left in the fridge. I said it was thoughtless and he said hey this is New York and this is an Airbnb, what do you think I am, a concierge? Whoa welcome to NY manners! Hey I said we aren’t some overnight stoppers; we’re committed to a frigging three month stay – probably the best letting in his Airbnb life. Miserable yanker. It wasn’t the happiest first meeting but it ended ok.
Anyway we’re happily settled in now having spent the next couple of days cleaning, changing sheets and furniture around and shopping at Marshall’s for sundry missing items. The guys arrived a few days later (the boys were so good throughout the journey – proud grandad) and life felt good. The apartment is spacious, with great storage space in a fab location, transport is brilliant and the area’s so vibrant. We even have our own floor and balcony which is a real sun trap. We all love it. Hello NYC