November 1st. The rent’s due.
Wait a minute. November 1st?
Holy crap. Today is the one year anniversary of the day I moved into my apartment in Astoria, Queens. Where does the time go?
I’m writing this from a yogurt/smoothie place called “Red Mango”, which is about a ten minute drive from my apartment. Yes, drive. As crazy as it sounds, Evi and I actually hopped in the car to run some errands. On a Sunday, no less. The Bucs are playing! That’s okay; at least parking is free. I’m also very confident in the Bucs’ ability to lose.
Evi is at a nearby table, working on her book. We can’t share a table because our laptops are too big. From where I sit, I can only see her profile. God, she is beautiful. I moved to New York City on July 15th of 2014, and met her 42 days later. Isn’t that crazy? 43 years old, could never make a relationship work, and not even two months after I move, I find the love of my life.
And, the one responsible for my killer apartment. The story: When I first moved here, I rented a couch in a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn from my longtime friend Julie. I had given away almost everything I owned in Florida, so all my worldly goods fit in one little corner of her living room. It was to be a temporary situation, until I found a place of my own. I have a habit, though, of letting “temporary situations” become “long-term stays”. In between working and getting on comedy stages, I had not even looked at one apartment.
Enter Evi into my life.
She was already very successful here in the city. Well-connected, she owns a licensed touring business and had hobnobbed with the likes of Donald Trump, Kofi Annan, and Bill de Blasio. She also happens to be a part-time department store model.
Aaaaand then there was me. I was shorter than her. I didn’t make a whole lot of money. I threw away a finance career to chase a dream. Nobody asks me to model. I had a lot of strikes against me.
Oh, and there was this little tidbit: I lived with a girl.
Some-the-hell-how, I convinced her to overlook all the other stuff, but she was not too keen on my habit of going home to another woman. Several times she’d ask me if I’d looked for apartments. “Not yet,” I’d reply. “Maybe this weekend”.
At some point, she decided enough was enough. We were in the bar area of some four star hotel in Tribeca, and she pulled up Craigslist on her cell phone. In the “apartments” section, the very top post advertised an available room in Astoria, not far from where she lives.
“Here,” she said. “$950 a month for a room. Call this now.” Her tone wasn’t pleasant. I called.
I got voicemail, so I left one. I received a text shortly thereafter. It turned out the guy, John, was potentially going to be my roommate as well as landlord. Arrangements were quickly made.
“One thing,” he texted. “I’m Asian, so I have a pretty strict rule about no shoes on in the apartment”.
“Hey,” I responded. “I’m Asian too! Or half-Asian, anyway.” The bromance had begun.
The next day after work, I met Evi and we both went to the apartment. John greeted me at the entrance to the building. I noticed that his Asian features were stronger than mine. He noticed nothing about me at all. That tends to happen when you walk around with a 6’2″ model. He showed us around.
If you live in almost any other city in the U.S., you’d probably think that my place was nothing special. But this is NYC. I had been renting a Goddamn couch for $750 a month. Your expectations are dramatically lowered when you take your budget into account. So, this place blew me away.
“There’s an actual hallway to my bedroom?” I was astonished. The kitchen was huge. I tried to hide my glee. There were still negotiations to take place. I thanked him and said I’d be in touch.
Evi was extremely excited about the apartment. “It’s only two stops away from me! You should grab it while you can.” She had a valid point. Apartments are notoriously hard to find anywhere here in the city. Another friend, Liz, told me that sometimes you have to go ahead and agree to a lease before you even see the place. I couldn’t dick around with this. I called John the next day.
“If it wouldn’t be any trouble, I’d like to take one more look at the place tonight.”
“No problem,” he responded. “Also, I put the $950 figure on Craiglist with the assumption that it’d be negotiated down. So $900 a month wouldn’t be a problem.” These were some tough negotiations.
That night, I brought my checkbook. And with that, Evi had a boyfriend with an actual bedroom.
Months later, I told a friend at work how I found my place.
“Let me get this straight. Your girlfriend looked ONLY at the top entry on Craigslist, you ONLY called that one listing, you ONLY looked at one apartment, the place was amazing, and your roommate AUTOMATICALLY reduced the rent before you even asked, all in the city where it’s impossible to find a decent apartment?!?”
“Yeah, I guess.”