To the owners of apartment 3F: Welcome to Astoria.
It’s a long walk from the subway, but I think you’ll like it here. I’d take the N train over the R, when possible. You’ll have internet access for longer, and the cafes on 30th Ave are adorable.
The outlet on the far side of the kitchen doesn’t work. Yeah, it never has. When I was writing my thesis in grad school, I would plug in my computer on the opposite side of the room and pray no one would open the door. That (usually) worked.
Oh, be sure to pull up on the handle of the toilet before pushing down. It’ll flush much easier.
Your new neighbors: They’re quite a collection of personalities. The one to the right is a clown. Yes, face paint, wife beaters, and all. He used to have a little, yippy dog that would make me want to self-mutilate my eardrums. Each Saturday, the mouse-like creature would bark and bark and bark until someone called 311 to complain. Don’t worry—the pup has since passed.
Down the road you’ll find ol’ Charlie and his elderly neighbor, whose name I never learned. They’re both dapper gentleman from Italy with a penchant for gardening, so don’t be surprised if one of them offers you some grapes.
Just so you know, the fan in the small room is a bit loud. But I think you’ll come to love the white noise—all that squeaking blocks out the car horns and the drunk millennials, stumbling back to the closets they currently call home. Some nights my mind couldn’t be shut off, full of worry and uncertainty about the next job, the next roommate, the next anything. That fan rocked me into a serene sleep, drowning out my overactive mind. I think I’ll miss it.
Oh! And the roof—you have access to the roof, as long as you are never caught on the roof. So actually you don’t have access to the roof, but the roof is, in fact, accessible.
Either way, promise me you’ll go up on the roof.
Promise me you’ll watch the sunrise over the city after an exhausting summer night that’s bled into morning. Promise me you’ll pop a beer on the ledge and take in the man-made horizon around you. Promise me you’ll celebrate the sky! Promise me….
One last thing: This tiny apartment in the middle of Queens was loved. It was my slice of New York City for four years, and it protected me from a world I barely understood. When I moved here I had stars in my eyes; the great NYC was mine for the taking! I would be a writer, or an editor… or maybe work for a magazine?
1,460 days later, I can tell you all the PB&J’s were worth it.
All the microwaved potatoes were just fine.
I can look back at my time in this apartment, and smile.
This is where I “grew up.” This is where I paid bills, and applied for loans. This is where I made my own doctor’s appointments, and learned how to drink whiskey—straight.
This is where I found internships that led to jobs. This is where I cried when boys hurt my feelings. This is where I watched “Little Women” each Christmas. This is where I burned cookies, and danced around in my underwear every time I got a paycheck.
See the rug over there? That’s where I fell apart, and put the pieces back together. See that chair in the kitchen? That’s where I wrote all of these blog posts for all of these years.
This apartment is where I learned to process life. When you move to New York (or any new city) at a somewhat naive 21, you’ve still got so much discovering to do.
You can forget to do the dishes.
You can complain about the commute.
You can worry about the cockroaches.
You can whine about the rent.
But you must love this apartment. I can’t stand to pass it off to someone who doesn’t.
I remember nervously setting my bags down in that tan-colored room for the first time, fresh from Virginia. It was 200 degrees, my car had just gotten towed, and I was working at Bloomingdales—yet everything felt just right, and everyone I knew was working hard, playing hard, and ready to do, do, do.
I can’t wait to see what we do next...
And as for me?
I move on to the next neighborhood and the next job.
I’ll no longer look at the city’s skyline from my roof in Queens. Instead, I will be a part of that skyline, looking back at the borough that helped shape my post-adolescent, pre-adult experience.
So good luck, my friend. Apartment 3F has harbored many actors, writers, and creatives, trying to both save a penny and touch their version of "success." May you conquer your dreams, or create new ones along the way.
PS: You actually should worry about the cockroaches. They are absolute monsters and attack about every 7 to 8 months. Beware the ones with wings.