Fire

So this crazy thing happened on Thursday afternoon: our apartment building caught fire.

(I don’t even know how to continue from that. I suppose I’ll start at the beginning.)

Our landlord had come over because we had a couple questions and he was helping us fix a few things in the apartment. We were having a really good time getting to know each other. He had brought his dog Gumbo, who was adorable and a bit rambunctious, and we had just said goodbye. I was just settling back into working when I heard a knock on my door. It was our landlord again, and he said, “Can you hold my dog? The building’s on fire.”

I grabbed Gumbo’s leash as he raced upstairs, then I got my purse and headed outside. Sure enough, something on the roof was on fire! We live in a brick building but there are these two wooden structures on top, and one of those was burning.

Everything is a blur now; it all happened so fast. I heard fire engines coming, and a crowd gathered. Soon enough, the street was blocked off, and there were six or seven fire trucks and at least 30 firefighters. One of them hooked a truck up to the hydrant in front of our building; another was taping off an area and dispersing crowds. I stood with a few other residents as we watched the structure burn. The hook and ladder went up and firefighters climbed up on the roof. The black smoke started turning white, but it took a long time for the fire to go out completely. A big portion of the structure was lost completely, but the fire was stopped before it reached the roof or anything else.

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I have so many thoughts surrounding all of this. They too seem to be jumbled. I’m just going to list them here – they probably won’t be in much of an order.

First, I have an endless list of words floating in my head when I think about the men and women who spend their lives fighting fires – the first of which is grateful. They saved our home. Without them, I don’t know what would have happened. Other words that come to mind are brave, selfless, insane. I don’t know how they run into flames when the rest of us are running away from them. I am so glad that we live so close to a fire station and am just incredibly impressed by their caring and courageous acts. I look at them with such respect, and I have a new understanding and appreciation whenever I see a fire truck or ambulance racing down the street.

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Another thought: I’ve done fire drills so many times and in so many different capacities throughout my life. But when there’s actually a fire, it’s a completely different sensation and feeling. I’m impressed with myself that I had the sensibility to grab my purse; I did not, however, manage to grab my keys before leaving. And my phone wasn’t ready for a disaster: it only had 9% battery life when I left our apartment. I should be more prepared in the future.

Also, there’s something so vulnerable about seeing your home on fire. We feel so lucky that it was on the roof, that the building wasn’t severely damaged, that we live on the first floor and the fire (or even the residual water or smoke damage) didn’t make it down to us. But there was definitely a moment, as I was standing on the corner watching our building burn, when I realized we didn’t have anywhere else to go should the fire reach our apartment. All of our physical possessions would be gone, and we wouldn’t have anywhere to live. That thought hits you pretty hard in the face of a disaster.

We got so lucky with all of this. When we were allowed back into the building a short time later, our apartment looked like nothing had happened. The lights that I’d left on were still lit; the TV was even still on. It smelled vaguely of smoke, but nothing serious had happened. The only sign that there was a fire was that our patio/balcony/little outside area was now covered in ash and little pieces of charred wood. We even had friends over that night for dinner, just like we were planning to. Now, a couple days later, there appears to be no water damage to our unit. The one inconvenience is that the water heater is out; I’ve finagled a method to bathe that involves boiling water on the stove, but it takes a long time and is a little labor-intensive. (Crazy how easy it is to take warm water for granted, eh?) Hopefully it will be up and running soon.

I don’t know how to end this post either (I guess this is a piece where I really haven’t known much). Mostly I just hope I never experience something like this again, but that I’m grateful that it ended pretty well considering what could have happened.

Summer Weekend in New York

This weekend. Ohmygoodness, this weekend.

I kept getting the “I can’t believe we live here” moments. Clearly I’m still not 100% adapted to NYC life, but this city is just so amazing, so big, so beautiful. I have such a love for it and I’m so excited that we live here now.

Friday night we went to a friend’s birthday party. It was on the roof of a building in Hell’s Kitchen, and the view was out of this world! We were looking toward midtown from the north, so there were skyscrapers galore. And you could see light just radiating from Times Square. I’m still blown away. We had lots of fun celebrating our friend’s birthday and we met a lot of other cool people – it was a really good time!

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We laid low during the day on Saturday. I slept a lot because I’m recovering from another cold. I feel like my body’s trying to build up immunity to this city, because I’ve already been sick twice since moving here… meh. But I still love New York! Anyway, I spent more than a fair bit of time sleeping until it was evening, when we ventured north near Riverbank State Park for a get-together at Davis’ coworker’s apartments. I had a lovely time getting to know the cool people he works with and eating delicious Greek food. There was this one dessert – I think it was called “galaktoboureko” – that was so incredible, it was like I was eating sweet air. (I just remembered that they sent us home with some – I may indulge after I finish this post.) And one of the women there had the most interesting stories! She lived in Italy for two years, so we spent some time talking about everything Italian. She even spoke Italian to me and I could understand what she was saying! I think once we’re more settled here I want to find a language partner or group or class so I can keep learning.

This morning we woke up and got ready to get our 1920s on! We had gotten tickets to the Jazz Age Lawn Party (http://www.jazzagelawnparty.com/), which is a huge celebration of everything 1920s-related. They had gramophone exhibitions, they had hats and suspenders for sale, they had two jazz dance floors and a place to take a picture with a paper moon. I outfitted myself in a purple flapper dress, sparkly headband, and pearls. Davis had gotten suspenders and a pipe just for the occasion. The party took place on Governor’s Island, so we rode the subway and took a ferry in our cool ensemble. We made friends on our journey and ran into an old classmate of mine, then met up with my friend Lauren and her roommate Meghan to spend the day with. I had packed a picnic, so we ate cheese and sandwiches and grapes and prosciutto and felt very classy. We danced and oogled at the fantastic costumes of others. There was this one woman who looked almost like Jane from Tarzan, it was so cool! And lots of people had very detailed flapper outfits. Then, out of nowhere, it started to pour! Before then it had been rather hot and humid, so the coolness of the rain was welcome, but the wetness was not! It was actually rather hilarious to watch everyone run for cover. We cowered under the parasols that Meghan and Lauren brought. Once the rain was gone, the fun began again. Davis bought a pair of 1920s-themed sunglasses that look pretty cool on him.

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The man in the pink in the top picture is Michael Arenella, the man who thought up the party and conducts a lot of the music for it. This was its 10th anniversary, and tickets were almost sold out!

I was so grateful for the shower I had when we got home and the (obscenely long) nap I took earlier this evening. We’ve had a very relaxed night, but after such a busy weekend, it’s really nice just to chill! Hope everyone else had a great weekend too – still can’t believe we’re lucky enough to call this city home.

One World Observatory and Maple Goodness

Today was a completely incredible day! And it was awesome for so many reasons.

So I felt like writing about it.

Last night Davis came home from work and said that he’d have to leave for a quick trip to Boston earlier than expected. These trips are so much more manageable than the ones he’d have to take when we were living in Seattle and he was gone every week for months at a time… no fun for anyone. Instead, he’s home almost every night these days and has to take one-off trips here and there, which we can handle no problem. So with this particular jaunt to Boston, he knew he’d have to go this week, but his time there got shifted around a bit, so he had to fly out tonight instead of tomorrow morning. We’d tentatively made plans tonight and he felt bad that he’d have to miss those, so he proposed a day date instead! (I just want to pause on the excitement of that for a second… he’s pretty wonderful, that husband of mine.)

Of course, it couldn’t be a full day, since both of us needed to get work done. But we did something that we’ve wanted to do for a while: go to the top of the Freedom Tower. Being able to plan with such precision made our trip cheaper (there are different tiers of tickets, and if you know exactly what time you’re going, it can save you a few bucks), and it was fun to be spontaneous!

Both of us had been to Ground Zero before, but not since construction of the museum and Freedom Tower had finished. We were pleasantly surprised to find the park area open. The lack of gates surrounding the courtyard made it feel so inviting and nice. And it was incredible seeing the tower rise above the fountains! But the reality and shock of 9/11 hit me again as I was gazing into the North Tower’s pool. Two skyscrapers stood here fourteen years ago. Two skyscrapers full of people, of lives, of work, of ambitions and dreams and friendships and love. And now they’re gone. There’s this apparent hole in the skyline that they used to fill, which I remember was what hit me the last time I’d visited the site. I was only 11 when the events happened; because I was so young and was living on the other end of the country, I wasn’t fully able to grasp the severity of the situation. But seeing this, and the hundreds of names of all the people lost that surround the pools, it really sinks in. I feel lucky that I didn’t know anyone, but I know people who did. One of my best friends lost her uncle, a firefighter who went up to help. Just thinking about it rips me apart, and I didn’t even know him. You can tell that it’s still a huge part of this city too. I see shirts everywhere saying “Never Forget”. Firetrucks have flags and decals remembering the men and women lost. The topic seems to come up a lot in conversation – where were you, what do you remember.

I feel like I can’t adequately describe my thoughts on this, nor can I properly transition away from it. Without the tragedy, there wouldn’t be the skyscraper we were in this morning. I’d really rather not have the new, shiny building if it meant that thousands of people could have their friends and loved ones back. But as it is, the Freedom Tower now stands tall at the tip of Manhattan, and that’s where we saw the world from today.

And holy moley, it was AWESOME.

The whole experience inside the tower was almost otherworldly. Everything was thought through. It’s so shiny and new, and it gives such a fantastic view of the city. They even made the elevator ride cool. We saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Brooklyn and New Jersey, and midtown Manhattan, of course. In one of the videos that was shown, some of the builders said that on clear days, they could even see the curvature of the earth from the top. Isn’t that insane?! We spent a good amount of time up there, and I think I significantly confused some Italians when I asked if they’d take our picture (which they did, and I took theirs, and then apologized in Italian because there was no flash and it was too dark… but they gave me blank stares, and I felt bad.). I would definitely recommend this to anyone visiting the city or who hasn’t already been – it was a really cool experience. I think we’re hoping to go again when we have family or friends in town.

(One more thing about the tower: there were definitely Disney-like aspects to it, in terms of its thoroughness. The queue kind of had Disney’s famous style of keeping the queuees occupied so they don’t notice they’re waiting. The whole thing felt almost magical. I wouldn’t be surprised if people at Disney helped put some of these pieces together.)

We ate lunch at a nearby burger joint we’d been wanting to try, then Davis said goodbye and headed to the office (and to Boston right afterward… he’ll be back tomorrow night). I spent the afternoon doing some work myself, then I wandered for a while. I’ve taken to doing this, to picking a direction and then just going. It’s helping me get acquainted with the city. There’s just so much to see and do here! Each time I go out, I find at least one more new thing to try. Yesterday I went to Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co. and had an ice cream sundae. An by “ice cream” I mean frozen fruit turned into soft serve… it was so delicious, and so much healthier than regular dessert! I’m definitely going back there again.

Today I stumbled upon the farmer’s market that was happening in Union Square. We live close by and I’ve walked by it once or twice, but this was the first time I deliberately explored. I stopped at a maple syrup stand and got to know its owner. He was so kind – he gave me a piece of maple candy (which was delicious – I can now see why Ross in Friends was hooked on it!) and let me try some of their out-of-this-world maple cream. This stuff is like autumn in a jar… I had to buy some. I’m going to have to pace myself, because I could see myself eating a ton of this very quickly if I’m not careful. The owner was telling me all about where he and his family live, how it’s not too far away and how beautiful it is. He and his wife were celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary this week, and they were just so adorable. The whole experience made me really happy, and something to strive for in our lives. I think I’ll go back and see them again next week.

So yes – that was my day. Simple but outstanding. Part of me still can’t believe we’re actually here. I love how each day is different in this giant new city of ours. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored. Excited to see what tomorrow brings.

First Week in NYC

This past week has gone by incredibly slowly, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. I feel like time has been very deliberate, and I’m okay with that. It feels like we’ve been here much longer than a week, but maybe that has to do with the fact that we’re still sleeping on the floor because alas, our furniture won’t be here for another 7-10 days.

I’ve taken to exploring the city and scouting out coffee shops during the day. I successfully went running outside twice already. I feel like my feet have taken me all over the city, but I know I’ve only scratched the surface of everything there is to explore. I still haven’t been up to the Upper East or Upper West Sides yet, or over to Brooklyn, or north of Central Park, or even much more downtown than I am right now! The city is positively endless, and I’m really excited about that.

What’s still a struggle for me though is waking up in the morning. Since my work is 1) remote, and 2) three hours behind me, I have no real motivation at the moment to get up before nine, and that really isn’t helping me adapt to the time change. It’s also throwing my entire day off. I’m going to work on creating a schedule for myself (and actually sticking to it). But I want make sure I’m patient with myself – we did just get here, after all.

Another thing that I need to be patient with myself is (and this is kind of embarrassing) my shock at the bugs here. And by “bugs”, I mean roaches. I never thought bugs really bothered me before, but goodness, they freak me out here. They’re HUGE! And they look scary, and they creep… everything about them gives me the heebie-jeebies. Thankfully I haven’t seen that many of them, but there was this massive one yesterday that made it kind of hard to sleep last night. I do find myself peering into rooms and around doors before I enter, and jumping at any little noise. Davis is incredibly wonderful about my reaction to them, never getting frustrated with my cowering and doing the dirty work. But I need to get better about them. I think I will in time.

Right now our experience still feels so temporary. Sometimes I find myself thinking, “Oh, I need to talk to so-and-so about that when I get back…” and then I catch myself, realizing I’m not going back anytime soon, at least not in the permanent sense of the word. I think it’s going to be so much better when our furniture does get here – it will feel more like home and finally seem real.

I’m excited to make friends too. I have to say, the people here have been really nice for the most part. I’ve been “welcome to New York”-ed at least four or five times, and that’s kind of a cool experience (like, “whoa, people actually say that!”). But both Davis and I are still strangers to almost everyone except each other here, and we’re ready to meet more people. We each have acquaintances or old friends in the city, and our social calendar this weekend has gotten rather busy with plans to reconnect. Good things lie ahead, I can feel it.

Oh! One more thing. I’ve joined two establishments already, both of which I’m excited about. The first is the New York Public Library! And I did it at the huge branch too, which was really cool. The second is a gym. So now I have no excuse: I can work out day or night, rain or shine. Time to get back into shape for the half marathon I’m doing in September! So that’s where I’m off to now – yay for new places and fun adventures!

We’re here!

We arrived in New York yesterday afternoon. Our flight was quick, and I had so much legroom! We got to sit in an exit row seat on a 757, so it was almost more room than I knew what to do with. I want to sit there every time I fly on one of those planes. I made friends with one of the flight attendants, and it was fun hearing her story. She’s from Chicago and has been working for the airline for 30 years. She has a whole bunch of crazy cool hobbies, like papermaking and teaching Burmese people how to speak English. It was really inspiring talking to her, and it reenergized me and reminded me that this world is so big and that I can have crazy cool hobbies too.

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All the legroom!

JFK is a really big airport, and we must have walked a mile to get to where we were picked up. I was so excited to spot the city on our flight and drive in! We got to our new apartment pretty quickly, and gosh, I don’t even know what to say about it. It feels so New York. It’s in this really cool brick building, and it’s on the first floor. It’s got hardwood floors, full-size appliances (!), and a washer/dryer (!!). It’s definitely tinier than our last place, and the bedroom is itty-bitty, but I’m so excited to make it home.

Seeing it from the plane!

Seeing New York from the plane!

We’ve already started exploring our neighborhood (East Village). We live in such a cool place! Already we’ve been to two different restaurants and a coffee shop. The place I’m in now is called Pushcart – it’s not too far from our apartment, and it opened this morning for the first time! I feel like we’re kindred spirits somehow – we’re starting our NYC adventure together.

We slept on the floor last night, and we’re living very simply until our furniture comes in a couple weeks. We went to Kmart (they exist here in the big city… but somehow Target does not) last night and stocked up on bare essentials (plastic plates and cups, paper towels, etc.). I think I’m going to go back today and get another twin-sized air mattress: I saw they were on sale, and even with padding, the floor is really hard! We’ve already been to Duane Reade (the drugstore) twice. Another cool thing: there’s a Trader Joe’s not too far from us!

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Our sleeping arrangement for the next 10 days or so

Already I’ve had such a good time wandering around and watching people. Everyone is so different, both from what I’ve known previously and from each other. I feel like I’m getting great fashion ideas just by keeping my eyes open. I have this overwhelming feeling of friendliness: while it is big, the city doesn’t feel scary to me. I want to go up to everyone and ask them about themselves and about their relationship to this place. I want to be friends with them all. And I feel like I can be.

(I also have seen a lot of runners around, and at all times of the day. Where on earth do you run? I want to ask them. Can I come too?)

For being so close to a pretty busy intersection, our apartment is surprisingly quiet. But when I walked out the front door about an hour ago, I was hit with a wave of energy, almost like a thumping of life that I could feel as clear as my heartbeat. We really did it, I thought. We made it. We’re here. This city is now ours to call home. And I’m so excited about that.

More of reality is setting in.

Today two big things happened:

We turned in our keys. After living in an awesome and practically brand-new apartment building near downtown Seattle for the last (almost) two years, we moved our final few things out today and said goodbye. The final few minutes were all a bit of a blur: grabbing the last couple boxes, closing the door without much ceremony, catching the elevator downstairs. We squished everything in the car and handed the keys to our concierge, and then walked out of the building for the last time. It was over so quickly I couldn’t quite process it. But as we drove away and back over the water to Davis’ family’s house, it hit me that we can’t say we live here anymore.

My car is gone. Saying goodbye to my car was a bit more emotional. Which honestly was a bit unexpected, as I loved my car but never felt that attached to it. I was a bit on-edge all day waiting for the carrier to come pick it up, but when he finally got here, the whole ordeal was over in less than five minutes. One second it was parked in front of the house, the next it was going away on the back of a truck – without me. I know it’s still going to be in the family and that it’s going to a good home, but it choked me up all the same.

We are without a car and without a permanent place to stay here. In the last 24 hours we have morphed back into the visitors we were during college.

Reality has set in bit by bit over time, and today, two of the big pieces, the moments of, “Oh… I guess we’re really doing this” have taken place. To say that my keyring feels lighter seems like a gross understatement; it’s only keychains now. I don’t belong anywhere at the moment, have nothing to call my own. The future, which I know is so exciting, is also terrifying me a little. We’ve taken the leap; now we’re in the air before we land on the other side.

We’re Moving!

WordPress informed me that it’s been almost three months since my last post. Jeez, I’m so bad at keeping at this! I love it though, especially going back and reading what I’ve written through the years. And so much has happened since my last post! I think the gist of it can be summed up in five words:

We’re moving to New York.

Yes, that’s right! We are leaving Seattle and moving across the country to a new city. And not just any new city: the biggest one in the US, and arguably the coolest! Davis got an opportunity within his company and will be working out of the NYC office, so we’re headed to the Big Apple. And when I say “we’re moving”, I don’t mean it’s going to happen in a few weeks. I mean we’re moving right now.

See, this whole thing has been brewing for a couple months, and after thinking about it and planning and packing as best we can, we’ve pulled the trigger. While I’m writing this, movers are in our apartment packing us up. I’m seated on the couch, trying not to get in the way but here if they need me. I feel so lucky that Davis’ company is helping us with this – I don’t know how we’d do a cross-country move otherwise.

I told my company about the move and am lucky enough to have the opportunity to work remotely, which I’m grateful for. Davis had to go to NYC for work a few weeks ago and found us an apartment while he was back there (in East Village! It’s gonna be awesome!). I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get ready. We’ve packed the clothes and things we’re going to need for the next two weeks in a couple suitcases so that we have stuff to live with while most of our belongings are making their way across the country. I’m shipping my car to my brother this weekend (because who wants a car in NYC?). We’re well into saying our goodbyes here too, and that’s been tough. I think the hardest will be Davis’ family, who we’re staying with for the next couple days while we wrap things up here.

I just, I can’t believe we’re actually doing this! It’s starting to hit me as our living room is drained of our belongings and fills up with boxes. In a few hours, the place that was home for two years will be empty.

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(And my goodness, the movers are so efficient! They’ve been here for an hour and packed what would have taken me a whole weekend to do!)

So needless to say, I feel like I will have a great amount of source material and things to write about going forward! I hope to make my blog what it was when I was in Italy a few summers ago, so stay tuned!