Sunday, November 6, 2011


The following day I am on the M4 bus going back to Washington Heights to collect my dry cleaning and clean the old apartment.

I currently have two leases. Yes it is costing me an extra $771 to have two apartments, but I am a pack rat and while I am disciplined, organized and a planner – I don’t like stress so I would rather have 10 days to completely move out and clean. Even it takes me four trips back to the Heights, this is less stress than having to have moved overnight. I know there tons of people all over New York who do this, move overnight. While I find them wildly fascinating, I don’t know how they do it. Do they not have stuff?

I get to the soon-to-be-old apartment building. It strikes me, these are my last few days and hours of my Heights life. It feels a little bittersweet because  it was not SO bad to live here. The neighborhood was quiet and safe. The building was EXTREMELY clean. I rarely saw rats up here. And I definitely never saw them in the building or near the building. Now that I think about, I did not see rats on West 181st Street either.  

I run a mental list of cleaning. Bathroom, kitchen, floors, and I presume I need to spackle the walls from where the “art” used to be and open the apartment door. For some reason the emptiness is surprising. It is not like I don’t remember movers coming and moving all the stuff. And though it happened a few days ago,  I feel like it was a life time ago.

I sigh, set my backpack in a corner and groan at the cleaning work ahead of me. I decide the easier task is to collect 20 pounds of dry cleaning, and pop out of the apartment, run across Fort Washington Avenue and then across 181. As I head towards the river, I realize how much I am going to miss the view and the George Washington Bridge.

I return to my apartment, barely get the dry cleaning in the closet and am startled by a knock on the door. I peer through the peephole and see that it is the Crazy Lady with the three dogs, two cats and a bird. I sigh and open the door.

“Hello,” I say, hoping I seem interested and happy to see her. “Did you move out?” she asks and looks past me and into the empty living space. “Yes, I did,” I reply. “Then what are you doing here?” she asks. “Cleaning,” I say. “Oh. Where did you move?” she asks as the Super comes through the front building door. Ugh. I don’t want him seeing us taking. He warned me several times to stay away from her. Just like she warned me to stay away from him. But you know, I lived here for three years, during which time the Super has been nothing but nice to me. Always helpful.

“I moved to the Upper East Side,” I reply. “Where?” she asks. What? She wants my address? “89th Street and York,” I lie. This is NOT where I went, it is close, but not exact. “Do you have any blankets? If so can I have them for the dogs?” she asks. Actually I do. “Sure, let me look and see what I have left. I mostly moved out. I need to clean now,” I say and shut the door.

I grab the Fantastic from under the kitchen sink and begin spraying the bathtub when the doorbell rings again. Good LORD! I lived here for three years and never had visitors, now that I don’t live here anymore I have had two guests back to back.

I go back to the front door, peer through the peephole and see that it is the Super. Great. I can redeem myself and let him know that the Crazy Lady sought me out. And why I care what he thinks, I don’t know. Oh I do know – the Super has been super the whole time I lived here.

“Hi!” I say warmly after I open the door. “So you moved out,” he says, he seems a little sad. Or maybe I am making it up. “I did. I am here cleaning so you aren’t stuck with a mess,” I reply.  He smiles. “Do you want to come in and give me advice on how get my deposit back?” I ask. He nods and walks around. “Pretty clean,” he says and pops his head into the bathroom, bedroom and then rummages through the kitchen. “You are going to clean the fridge and oven?” he asks. “Yes,” I reply. “Wait here. I will get you some oven cleaner and help you take the stove apart. I’ll be right back,” he says and heads to the door.

“Oh what did she want?” he asks. “Blankets for her dogs,” I reply. “Don’t you dare even give them to her. She is nuts and disgusting. Her apartment is – I can’t even tell you – this is why I am sad to see you go. A nice and clean tenant,” he says, shakes his head and shuts the door.

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