Monday, February 21, 2011

New York: 1, My Wallet: 0

Just returned from a weekend trip to New York, my future home. I have been to New York several times in the recent past, and yet I still seem like such an outsider when I’m walking around. One reason for this could be that yesterday I was toting my Adidas soccer duffel bag and clothes-lining people on the sidewalk. (To-do: buy a bag that doesn’t make me look like a child ready to grab my hemp bracelets and head to camp.)

I am ready to stop looking straight up at the buildings when I walk. I am ready to learn to cross the street without getting honked at or nearly pulverized by a speeding cab. I am ready to learn to place my order as fast as the men at the deli expect it. Above all, however, I have one pressing question about life in New York that I will need answered before I pack up my duffels and move in.

How to live in New York without spending so much money that I have to pawn off my belongings, lose my electricity, or pack up and move back into my parent’s basement?

Everything in New York costs money. Someone hands you a towel in a fancy restroom? That will cost you. You want toppings on your pizza? Fork over the bills. You want a bathroom IN your hotel room? Ya, that’s above your budget.

Or my budget at least. As a result of impulsive hotel booking and a slight misunderstanding of information, (how am I supposed to know that “shared bathroom” means sharing the bathroom with the entire floor?) I ended up staying at a place that seemed more like a hostel than a hotel. Most people in the lobby were international travelers with backpacks and our hallway smelled like weed. I have the bladder of a toddler and the bathroom down the hall business really caused me some grief. I was laying awake for about 30 minutes with images of the movie Taken flashing through my head. I eventually realized I had to bite the bullet and venture out into the dark hallways alone.

While next year I will be renting, and thus familiarity will naturally follow, what kind of place makes a toilet a costly luxury?

The charming details of the hotel were somewhat lost on me, as I was too focused on the lack of more practical elements. For example, the elevator was an old thing with dark hardwood on the inside and a hinged door that opened on to each floor. It was cute and reminded me of a servants’ lift that you would find in an old mansion.

This weekend I was more like the international backpackers than any local, awkwardly dragging my luggage, relying heavily on Google maps, and paying too much for accommodations and food.

Here I am stepping on to our floor. I’m smiling because I don’t yet know that we have a dirty bed spread and no bathroom.

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