Greetings from New York

The big news: we moved to New York City.

"City of Ships" (excerpt) by Walt Whitman

This August, we completed our first move as a family. The last time any of us moved was about three and a half years ago—Dustin and I moved most of our stuff into our apartment in Dorchester House about a week before we got married. This time, we were all in it together as an actual family.

When we found out we might be moving to Brooklyn, we started investigating things: Where to live? How to actually find an apartment? How to get our stuff there? When it became official, we sort of went into high gear. We looked at apartments online while we were at Donner Lake. Then, a few days after coming home from vacation, we went to New York to check things out. Finding an apartment in New York is a very different experience. There are large apartment buildings, but not in the area we wanted to live. So, apparently, the best way to find an apartment is to go to a broker. This concept was very foreign, and a little uncomfortable, for us.

Our first morning in Brooklyn, we went to a Rapid Realty office and announced that we needed to find an apartment. Our broker talked to us for a little while about what kind of place we wanted, and then he took us to four apartments. One of them was very nice, but I was not at all thrilled about the neighborhood. But it’s New York, and if we didn’t sign the lease, someone else would have the same day. So we went for it.

Next step: the actual move. We decided to use moving containers that would be forklifted into place on the street where we could pack them in a few days, then picked up and dropped off in front of our apartment in Brooklyn two days later. We discovered it’s quite difficult to estimate how much stuff we have. The moving company said that based on our apartment size, we should get two cubes. But that didn’t seem like enough to us, so we ordered three. Then we had to find a place for them. We put up “Emergency No Parking” signs on the street where the cubes were supposed to go, but…then a hurricane came (see page 9 of this magazine) and blew our signs, which were duct taped, away. So there were cars there and we had to get new signs, call for the cars to be towed, and finally get our cubes parked.

Packing wasn’t fun. We decided that we have too much stuff, and we are in the process of getting rid of some of it. Fiona did not enjoy packing at all, because she wasn’t allowed to help, and we were so busy that she didn’t have a playmate for a few days. Fortunately, Karen came over at one point and packed one box and then played with Fiona. We managed to get all our stuff into boxes, and then all the boxes into the moving cubes, with the help of some members of our ward.

Mr. Pantone, my car, was sort of an issue. We knew he needed to be sold, but that’s kind of a pain, especially since I was not willing to send him off with some faceless corporation that didn’t even think he was good enough to be resold on their lot. I advertised on Craigslist and got far more responses than I’ve ever gotten for anything on Craigslist. Most of them were rather gruff—one person sent me an email that just said “miles?” I was not selling my faithful car to someone like that. Fortunately, someone who lived just a few blocks away emailed me and said that Pantone sounded like just the kind of car she and her husband were looking for. Excellent! They took a look at him, went for a test drive, and seemed to understand my attachment. The transaction couldn’t take place for a few weeks after we moved, so we left the car—trunk full of stuff that we had forgotten to put in the cubes—on the street.

Since we are train people, that’s how we got to New York. On the afternoon of Thursday, 1 September, we hopped on a train. We arrived at Penn Station at about 20.00, and we were starving, so we paused for some pizza slices and let Fiona run around a little. We finally got to our new apartment sometime around 22.00. It was, of course, completely empty, and since the apartment itself was brand new, we were very nervous about damaging the floors. Since it was late, we didn’t spend a lot of time exploring. We just inflated our borrowed air bed and tried to sleep. Fiona had the hardest time, since she doesn’t understand sleeping when she’s not in a confined space. But eventually we all settled down and got some rest.

The next day, our cubes arrived at about 13.00. Our branch president’s wife, offered to come pick up Fiona so that she could play with her kids and be safely out of the way while we unpacked. She was not at all sad to climb into the car and drive away. Dustin had arranged for the missionaries in our branch to help us unload. Before they arrived, we met a man with some iguanas on the sidewalk—he was hanging around in front of the hair salon two doors down. When Dustin was inspecting the cubes, the man came over and asked if we needed any help. “Oh, no thanks, we have some people coming.”

When those people—elders wearing suits and nametags—arrived, the man came over and said, “Wait, you’re Mormon? I’m Mormon, too!” It turned out that he had not been to church since he lived in the Dominican Republic, about nine years ago. Dustin and the missionaries invited him to church, and he came that Sunday. It was nice to know that, just by moving, we had already helped find someone who wanted to come back to church.

We had only a four-hour window to unload our cubes, and since it had taken hours to load them, we were a little worried. We didn’t need to be: the four elders, senior couple, and Relief Society president had everything unloaded and into our apartment in an hour and a half. It was amazing.

Once our diligent helpers had left, we set to work on Fiona’s room—her very first room, all to herself! By the time the branch president’s wife brought her (and our dinner) home, her room was all set up. She walked in and seemed quite happy to see all of her things there. Our first dinner in our new home was eaten, naturally, in Fiona’s room.

The next few weeks were difficult, since Fiona’s room was the only one without any boxes. It was frustrating that we couldn’t walk across any room without climbing over something, and that in order to get to the thing we wanted, we had to move twelve other things. But with some time and patience, we got (almost) everything unpacked and organized. Now we all love our little apartment, with its cozy rooms (officially, there are five rooms, but we consider it to be at least a seven-room apartment) and quiet neighborhood. We’re happy we’re here and that we have the things we have: mostly, a happy and healthy family with a safe, comfortable home.

This article appeared on pages 2–3 of Issue 4 | October 2011.

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