Monday, August 24, 2009

Sweet Sweet Sweaty
Summer in the City

223 E. 32nd - Sepia
My old home-sweet-home on E. 32nd Street.

I found myself up in Harlem last month, helping a friend move out of the apartment that I helped her move into three years ago.

Hang on a minute. Holy cows and buckets. Has it really been that long?

I'm getting a bit sentimental, thinking back over these past three years. I've moved three times, between two boroughs. I've had three jobs, within two companies. I've visited three grad schools, applied to two, went to none. I've been to two funerals and three weddings. I've joined one church. I've made it to the bottom of one bottle of whiskey and approximately 5,623 cups of coffee.

That summer, three years ago, was my first in this city. I was working crazy hours at a crazy company, subsisting mainly on cranberry-walnut muffins from Au Bon Pain and large quantities of iced coffee. I lived in a miraculous and lovely 1-bedroom apartment in Murray Hill, where I was determined to make it through the summer without an AC unit.

Madness, right? Especially for a girl who hates to be hot as much as I do. But I had sweated it out through four summers in Boston without AC, so I figured I could handle a NYC summer as well.



The heat settled into my apartment in an opressive fog. My puny little fans did next-to-nothing to break it up, making it nearly impossible to sleep at night. [Editor's Note: This may have also been mildly attributable to that iced coffee diet I mentioned earlier.]

At first, this sleeplessness seemed a positive thing. "Finally, I'll be able to catch up on my life!" I thought. And so I did - I organized bank statements. I caught up on Netflix. I remember writing a bible study on the Jewish holiday of Tisha B'Av at 3a.m. one night, because that seemed like a timely thing to do. Eventually, though, it became too hot for productivity. I took to sitting, staring, and fanning.

And then, there were the smells. Oh, the smells. NYC smells very much bad in the summer. Garbage cooks on the sidewalks and each street corner develops its own distinct, noxious odor. When I opened my window to accomodate the fans, some nasty smells would come drifting in from outside. G-r-o-s-s. However, if I closed the window, the apartment would become unbearably stuffy and stifling. Begging the question: was a smelly breeze better than no breeze it all? Quite a dilemma. NYC forces you to make tough choices, sometimes.

After a couple weeks, I began to fear for my physical well-being while at home. It was so very freakin' hot! I stopped wearing pants. I drank bottomless glasses of cold water. I used bags of frozen peas as ice packs. I sat very, very still in the dark. Still hot. Still very, very, so very freakin' hot.

And so when, in the midst of moving BethE into her new Harlem apartment that July, she offered me her old AC unit - I gladly accepted. What a life-saver. I started sleeping again. I stopped fearing that I was in danger of becoming one of those NYC smells. Life was better with AC.

Fast forward three years. I inherited good stuff from BethE's latest move, as well: good coffee, a funky pillowcase, and a pea-green suede journal. Maybe not as necessary as an AC unit, but each are life-saving in their own way. Caffeine to wake you up in the morning, a place to lay your head at night, and blank pages to make sense of what happens in between.

You know what else is good for helping you make sense of your in-between moments?

Friends. Thanks, BethE, for seeing me through job changes, grad school apps, weddings, funerals and cups of coffee. Enjoy your new digs across the river!

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