I’m 22 and a fresh faced Texas gal moving to New York City. I’m a planner through and through and couldn’t bear the thought of moving to NYC, living in the Y until I found a great apartment. That sounded like a horrible idea!
(Especially because I had already spent a week at the Y on a job interview stint. I’m a very heavy sleeper and usually need at least two alarms to roust me. Apparently the Y walls are quite thin as my mornings started off with the gi-normous former linebacker banging on my door, “Yo, bitch, turn off the dang alarms or I’ll knock this door down and do it for you.” )
The guy that I nursed a mega-mega crush on in my PR class was moving to NYC and! he had an illegal sublet in Brooklyn and! he was willing to share. Our rent was $360 – total. So $180 per person. Perfect! I imagined living on a tree-lined street, around the corner from the lovable Huxtable family.
Imagine my surprise at seeing stripped cars, figures huddled over oil barrel fires, boarded up hovels. Like Prior Husband, I was a big believer in signs – and the fact that my
Naivete only takes you so far when you are the only white chick for miles. And even harder when the natives see me not as a whitey, per se, but a sign of gentrification and higher rents.
About a month in, I found the local laundromat. They offered drop-off service, which seemed like a great idea. But then, surrounded by Queen Latifahesque African American women, suddenly a whitey droppin’ off her skivvies seemed just a teeny bit plantation-ish. (I was living in the Underwood mansion, after all.)
The change-making machine was on the fritz so I very nicely asked the attendant to make change.
“Sorry, honey, we all outta black quarters and the machine don’t take your white quarters.”
Huh. Did not know there was such a thing and, I swear on a stack of allergen-free chocolate chip cookies, I did not catch the sarcasm and/or the racial tension.
“Okay. Where do I get black quarters then?”
“You go next door to the bank and you tell Shaniqua that I sent you. Be sure to tell her you’ll need black quarters.”
Well, that’s convenient … a bank next door. Huzzah.
And, yes, I really did go into a bank in the heart of Bedford Stuyvesent (home to Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing movie) and say “Hello, I need to buy black quarters.”
And, no, I never went back to the laundromat. In fact, when my parents flew to New York to help me move the hell out of dodge, they were astonished at all the laundry hanging to dry in the bathroom.
“You know there’s a laundromat right down the street, right?”
And as a lovely techno-p.s., I did a google maps street view on my humble abode, 361 Washington Ave. Apparently the gentrification was a smashing success. Still has the green trim around the windows and still has the full sized window above the door, which was super handy for the burglars.
|361 Washington Ave. 2nd floor was my first NYC home.|