Next week I move; leaving the big city apartment of 24 years behind. Huge change for me. In a way, it’s like coming home again.
I arrived in the city in 1992, fresh from a lifetime in suburbia and three years on eight acres, complete with laying hens, a draft horse, and a soon-to-be-ex husband who was kind enough to help me move. He got custody of our black lab, I took the two cats. They hated going outdoors and didn’t need lots of space (it was just one more piece of our perfect split; he wanted all the stuff I didn’t care for, I wanted all the stuff he loathed.) Into one single van it went, and a couple of friends helped me lug it up to the third floor, no elevator.
City living was a brand-new experience, one I really wanted to try. Finding a parking spot was a challenge from Day One. It hasn’t changed.
There have been some crazy neighbors over the years: the guy downstairs who insisted on dating howlers; the single cop next door who had angry women spitting fire and trying to kick his door down in the middle of the night (although sometimes they were smoother and smoothed their way in), the mother and teenboy son next door who once shot the windows out of my car because I unknowingly parked in a spot they’d shoveled out. By far the craziest was a man named Corey.
Corey was a talker, and a hoarder. If he caught you in the hall, a half hour of nods and uh-huhs and “that’s terrible” ensued. A chronic victim, he felt the world was against him. I tried to help once. He didn’t have a car, so we took mine to a computer store to pick up his first PC. He needed a hand with some basic word processing software, I was happy to show him. Then I went out one night with some friends, returning at midnight to 43 answering machine messages. The first was casual … “hi, can you call me back? I need a hand with something on the computer” and escalated into my being a betrayer who broke promises (and being called every filthy name in the book). Obviously not worth a response.
Then there was the time “someone” decided to prank me by filling out several thousand magazine subscription forms, using typed labels with my name, address, and telephone number, checking “bill me later.” Sixty pounds of mail a day for months. It even dinged my credit some and took years to straighten out. A happy benefit of that is that I rarely get mail anymore.
There’s some good neighbors, too, like the friend on the first floor who fed my cats when I went out of town for the weekends, and the sweet couple who live in the basement. I will miss them.
I’m thrilled to be going back to the suburbs. OK, further than the suburbs. The actual country, clean air, no traffic, no sirens, no gangs … and no mockingbirds that sound like car alarms. It will be me and my man with our dog and cats in our house out in the country, very much like what I left in 1992.
Maybe older, definitely wiser, and home again at last.