I claimed here that the next post would be about our first week in NY, but I think I’ll stick, for now, with our first day, maybe just our first hour or two.
We flew out, as mentioned, with all of our stuff packed into 4 suitcases and with a cat (in carrier) as a carry-on. We had drugged Rooster (the cat) at the airport in Sacramento, the drugs not knocking Rooster out but rather putting him into a trance under which he spent the next ten hours uninterruptedly plucking at the mesh screen of his carrier at three second intervals, creating a race between the plane landing and Rooster plucking his way through his carrier and running free and high around said plane.
But the carrier held up and made it to LaGuardia intact, around midnight. One thing we learned that day—and would be reminded of several months later, walking through Brooklyn for a vet check-up—is that a 19 pound cat plus a three-quarter-pound carrier equals 19.75 pounds, and 19.75 pounds feels like a goddamn lot of weight when you’re toting it through an airport terminal.
Another thing we learned is that New York crowds are not like California crowds, and after somewhat reluctantly bumping and shoving my way through men, women, and children and one-by-one collecting our 4 overweight suitcases from the baggage carousel and depositing them onto a cart and bumping and shoving (now with the aid of a cart loaded with 200 plus pounds of luggage) our way out the sliding doors, I spotted an open cab across the street and in a fit of adrenaline—charged by an arduous hour of cat-carrying and women and children bumping—I lifted all 4 of our 50-plus pound suitcases—2 handles in each hand—and awkwardly jogged toward the cab’s open trunk.
The cabbie did not recognize the address of the Brooklyn sublet we had rented sight unseen (our key had been FedExed to us by our friend Joe), but as we came closer to what our research indicated to be our neighborhood and our apartment, the cabbie began to repeatedly inform us that, “No, you don’t live here. Not here.” Not “You don’t want to live here,” but definitively, “You don’t live here.”
“This is what we call East New York,” he said, “This is the worst part of New York. You don’t live here.” Now to get the whole picture here you have to consider that we’ve quit our jobs and sold all of our stuff other than the contents (more or less) of the 4 bags in the trunk and it’s nearly one in the morning and very dark outside and this guy is repeating over and over, “No, you don’t live here. Not here. You don’t live here.” The thoughts that Liz and I were having about the situation and the hypothetical conversations our minds were each having with the other as we sit silently in the cab are probably fairly easy to imagine. But our faces? All poker.
As we got closer to the apartment, the cabbie’s mantra changed from “You don’t live here” to “Past Washington. Past Washington is nice. You live past Washington. You don’t want to live this side of Washington. Past Washington is okay.” When he got to Washington, he cut over to Dean, the street we lived on. I looked out the window at the address of a building. Then at the next one. “Other way,” I said, “It’s the other way.”
The cabbie drove us to our apartment in silence. Liz and I looked at one another: Poker.