I moved last Saturday. This time on my own terms. Three years prior I’d run screaming from a lovely prewar Yonkers studio. It had beautiful moldings, gleaming hardwood floors and
Satan’s mosquitos bedbugs. Everything I owned–furniture, clothing, bedding…everything– had to be tossed or baked to a hot enough temperature that it killed the bastards. What I was able to salvage would be housed in “holy shit, you could fit a toddler in these”-sized Ziploc bags for the next year. Like a gypsy nomad with better shoes, I headed north. I bid farewell to neighbors like Felix, the 50-something born-again/pothead who liked to ask how me and my “Slaab” were doing every time he saw me before laughing maniacally at his feat of comic wordplay and left avocados in plastic bags at my door with little notes attached that read, “enjoy! signed, the cat :)” (no, seriously) and looked forward to a new life frequenting the same haunts as modern day aristocrats. I’m talking Bill, Hill and Martha, ya’ll.
Though my zipcode was posh, my new building was charmingly old and in disrepair, with a pink and purple painted exterior that whispered Wes Andersonian-whimsy softly to me. Named after an early settler of the town, it sat precariously on its hilltop perch like a disheveled elder, drunkenly surveying its progeny. But no matter if my kitchen floor visibly slanted downward. For the first time since my Boogiedown beginnings I had sidewalks. Main Street bustled with indie shops and restaurants while Target was tastefully hidden near the train tracks. Life was good.
Cut to this year when my three-story walk-up in the building I affectionately nicknamed The Palace Flophouse started to feel less Steinbeck, more Hannigan home for the forgotten–in this case, single women and South American day laborers. The charm of original built-ins no longer outweighed the inconvenience of hot water outages and ceiling leaks that made it impossible to appropriately appreciate rainy Sunday afternoons. In place of bedbugs was a ceaseless, roving army of walking dead stinkbugs. In this instance zombies were certainly preferable to vampires but still…ew.
Also lame were all the Sophie’s choices: TV or microwave? I couldn’t use both without blowing the fuse. Better not buy too many groceries in one trip or you’ll have to do multiple relays up all those stairs. Those fucking stairs. You’d think three years later I’d have built up some sort of tolerance, an immunity to breathlessness. No. My lungs were perfect specimens of a complete lack of stamina. But it would be those stairs, those fucking stairs, that finally gave us us free like Cinque.
I came home early one morning in February, exhausted after an overnight flight, to find a thick layer of ice coating the inside stairwell. I heard the voice of Iyanla then the way people who watch less television than I do probably hear Jesus talking to them and she said simply, “Beloved, this some bullshit.”