Since we have been married, our journey away from our homeland has led us to many towns. Each home and location has had new and different things to adjust to (+ and -). I write about them so as to not forget the little details I still recall in my fast fading memory. As with all things, the further time passes, the more nostalgia brings to light less of the negative and surfaces more of the pleasant. It will try to record both because they make up the entirety of the experience. Today I will write about the first home away from home- August 1999.
Mike got into a management development program that relocated us to New York. We were so excited for his new salary, we felt it was well beyond our wildest dreams at that stage of our lives. Then he went apartment hunting and reality crashed on our heads. We lived comfortably in Arizona with a $500 per month rent payment that included one bedroom, a laundry facility, maybe even a gym, two covered parking spots and a couple of pools. Rent in New York would BEGIN around $1100- $1500 for a one bedroom, and even that *low* price was hard to come by. That was the start of the high cost of living reality of our new lives. And that never included a gym or a pool, almost never a parking spot.
We moved to Long Beach, Long Island and landed at E Broadway and Lincoln Blvd. It was a beach town, however, I had a hard time locating a skate/ surf shop for some reason. The grocery store was filled with old people and the strip malls off the main street seemed dated and empty. It turned out Long Beach (during the non-summer months) is a retirement community filled with many nursing homes. Most of the people living there settled their weary bones in for the final years of their lives while we were just beginning ours.
I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that we would be living 2 short blocks from the beach. I actually fell out of bed and went running on the boardwalk, essentially my back yard. It seemed odd for such a cute town to be empty considering how peaceful, beautiful, and accessible the beach was. It felt like our little secret hideaway home no one knew about. It didn't matter that the dishwasher only held 7 dishes or that the ceilings were an inch above our heads. That the washer and dryer was outside behind another home (mostly because Mike did laundry in the snowy winter). Or that the closet molded out our sleeping bags and board bags. It didn't matter that our little space was 1 of 4 apartments carved out of what was once a huge house. It was our first home in our introductory New York experience.
I remember it took me a while to find a job and it caused us some concern. Bills were going to be huge, the train and subway alone was over $200 a month! I even applied for jobs at Blockbuster and Pier One Imports because we needed me to generate income fast. I got a job at a fancy mall in Long Island for Clinique as a make-up artist. I sucked at that job. The manager kept yelling at me to wear more lipstick each hour. I was so thrilled when I finally got a bank job in the city. Mostly so I could do something I thought I might be better at, but also to have the company pay for my education and to see more of this city that terrified me.
I remember I sat on the (wrong) train with sweaty palms on my way to the interview. The train was empty and I was worried it wasn't the right job for me and that I would get lost or mugged in the city trying to find the building. I finally found a ticket puncher and he pointed out the correct train, I hopped on right as it was closing its doors. I remember exactly what I wore and the purse I was holding. I remember saying a silent prayer so I could get this job so we could have enough money to live in New York and give this place a fair shot. Even though so much of me wanted to run back home to what was familiar.
I remember the only good dinners I knew how to make from scratch were chicken noodle soup and turkey chili. We ate them both every week in the winter. And nachos for lunch every Sunday while we watched t.v. after church. I wrote a little about what Sundays were like here.
I remember how strange it was that our bathroom towels never seemed to dry.
I remember taking surf lessons in the ice cold water, even with a wetsuit on it was impossibly cold. I was secretly happy there was a sea lice outbreak so I had a legitimate reason to not go in the water for a while.
I remember us going on a nightmare snowboarding trip up north with the Wheelers (our first friends that were there from AZ, too, for the same reason). It was negative 20 degrees that day. I did one run and felt like I had shattered my knee caps. It was ice, like trying to cut an edge on a metal table. It wasn't worth the hassle and cost of going. I knew we wouldn't be back. I cried in the lodge and threw my boots across the floor at the fire place. I knew it was the end of a hobby I loved for a long, long while. I didn't know then that NY in and of itself was its own hobby waiting for us to explore.
I remember once I stopped being a big baby, I dried my tears and had lunch with my husband and friends. Mike took off his waterproof overalls and had on these sweatpants that were super thin and somewhat fitted. I was sitting across from him as he stood up at the table to take off his coat. In my mind I thought of doing something that seemed funny in my head, but I didn't actually realize I was acting on the thought. In the middle of a busy lodge I reached out and grabbed his package. I don't know why. The best part is he totally stood there like it was no big deal. Hey getting your junk grabbed in public is totally normal, we do this all the time. Anybody else wanna piece of me?
I remember this is where we lived when we made the all-night drive in December to Washington, D.C. to go to the temple and be sealed for time and eternity. I remember feeling like my heart opened up a new chamber and my love for him expanded beyond what was humanly possible. It was like love on steroids. Only spiritual. Ergh! There are not proper words to explain the change that occured.
I remember the green hill on the way to Pergament (home improvement store) that reminded me of the teletubbies. I wrote about grocery shopping here.. The Clam House that was closed until summer. The Palace, the retirement home across the street and how there would be sirens going in the middle of the night that sounded like a dj was at a turntable (woooo wopwopwop wooooo wop WOP wowoWOP). It's since been torn down and seems luxury condos have been put up.
On weekdays we literally left for work before the sun came up and got home after it went down. It took both of us about 1 hour and 45 minutes one way to get to work. Young people didn't live there because it was too far from where life was happening. Long Beach was a town for the young people to crash in the summer, not live in. We set our sights on Brooklyn. It would save us a lot of money to shave the train tickets off our budget by just taking the subway and cut the commute time a ton. We wanted to enjoy life more, have some spending money, and get into the city for FUN more often.
Next stop: Park Slope 18th Avenue and 21st Street.
*note to self: find a scanner to add paper photos of these memories