Six years ago I started writing Lame Adventures because I was down on my luck. The country was deep in recession and I needed something free to fill my time following a twenty percent pay cut in 2009. Writing a blog was the perfect solution. I had to take photographs, concoct a story, make it somewhat coherent, and field comments from my trickle of followers. That was a great time sponge.
Over the years, as my following increased, The Grind every so often stuck a crow bar in the company safe and returned some of my cut pay. After my father shed his mortal coil in summer 2014, my siblings and I sold our family home in San Francisco, and split the proceeds three ways. Suddenly I was up on my luck. My brother, Axel, suggested the unfathomable:
Axel: Why don’t you look into buying a piece of New York real estate?
Give up the rent stabilized apartment in the heart of Manhattan’s Upper West Side that I had called my sanctum sanctorum for over thirty years? So it was in a walk-up building with thin walls, worn floors, torn window screens, it had one closet, the refrigerator light was busted and a replacement bulb could not be found, the bathroom sink leaked, and the ancient stove, originally intended for a motor home, had to be lit with a match. It wasn’t wired for air conditioning, it only had three outlets with five working plugs, I had to walk three blocks to the laundromat in the blistering heat and freezing cold, my letter carrier was the poster child for anger management, the tenant below me lay dead on the floor for several days in 2014, and last summer, I temporarily had a room mate, a pigeon that flew in through the chimney. Was my closest living male relative smoking crack when he suggested that I give up that slice of paradise?
The time had come to do what had initially seemed unthinkable: stop being a renter and start being an owner. It took all of 2015 through January of 2016 for me to complete this process. After searching for eight months, bidding half a dozen times on apartments as far north as 103rd Street and south as 57th Street, getting rejected five times in the ferocious blood sport that is Manhattan real estate shopping, I finally had my offer accepted. Then, I entered a new hell: the complicated buying process for this sliver of Big Apple in a landmark Emery Roth co-op building a short walk from my former sanctum sanctorum.
Before I started looking into purchasing a place, I would not have known Emery Roth from an emery board. He’s the architect who designed the iconic San Remo, the building with the two towers that I’m flying past in my banner. To afford to live in the San Remo, you need the assets of a sultan. Considering that I remain in the neighborhood that I’ve called home for over thirty years, I feel like I’ve won Powerball gaining admittance into discount Emery Roth. Residents that live on the side of the San Remo facing east get a view of Central Park. In my building, my apartment faces north, so my view is a dentist’s terrace.
My new building has an opulent lobby, two elevators, an immaculate laundry room (open twenty hours a day, seven days a week), 24 hour doormen who greet me warmly and accept my deliveries, a live-in super and friendly handyman. My apartment has air conditioning, two closets, a real stove, a refrigerator with a light, and unlike my old sanctum sanctorum, room for a couch and space for a desk. Electricity is included in the maintenance.
Because my new place is near my old one, I didn’t hire movers. Aside from my spin bike, pictures, a file box and magazine rack, I ditched my old furniture and decided to start over fresh. What I did keep, about a third of what I had, required approximately 347 pack mule schleps with a duffel bag. I parted with many things I didn’t even know I had from my first phone to a specimen cup.
Despite its many quirks, I bid my rental apartment of 32 years and four months a fond adieu.
When I returned the keys, I suspect that my now elderly Irish landlady tossed aside her cane and did a little Riverdance, shouting at the top of her lungs:
Irish Landlady: Hallelujah, she’s gone! We can double the rent!
I am adapting to the good life in my new sanctum sanctorum at warp speed, but I am confident that wherever I go, more Lame Adventures will follow.