Saturday, February 22, 2014

Me and 10 Gay (Street)

I'm a big fan of Christopher Grey who writes the Streetscapes column in the NYTimes. This weekend, he wrote about his first apartment in Manhattan which sent me down my memory lane. My first place was in the West Village- the address 10 Gay Street Apartment 4B. I had arrived in NYC after completing my coursework for my Masters in Photography from the Visual Studies Workshop and the plan was to live with my then boyfriend Michael. The relationship didn't exactly work out, and I found myself at 28 doing the one thing I dreaded more than anything else, having to find a place to live alone in the big apple. I distinctly recall the terror of trying to find a place to live, tracking down the Village Voice the night before it was readily available to read the listings, arriving at showings only to find 30 people already waiting to see the property in question, usually with a checkbook in hand. I quickly learned that finding a desirable, affordable apartment in Manhattan was going to be one of the toughest things I had yet to do. Luckily, through a friend, I heard about a sublet. A tiny one bedroom that could be mine for 6 months with a rent I could afford alone. I arrived at the anointed hour to meet the lease holder and turning onto Gay Street from Christopher on a foggy evening I encountered the most charming block I had ever seen in the city. All of 10 buildings long, with a slight curve, the street connected Christopher and Waverly Place tucked behind 6th Avenue. It was a peaceful oasis and I knew no matter what condition, I would take the place.
Somehow, when the original tenant decided not to return, the landlord offered me the lease. The year was 1981 and I rented the apartment for 10 years, finally giving up the lease when I moved uptown  to a loft where I could both live and work. A lot happened to me in those 10 years. My business grew, I had more romantic trysts than I care to remember (including my first dates with my first husband), along with many lonely nights, resulting in an education in to how to live on my own. A quick google search shows the apartment in its current glory, all fixed up and gleaming with a rent to reflect the current market.
But my memories are of a tiny flat, of dinners cooked and served to friends and suitors alike, to carrying bags of groceries and photo cases up four flights of stairs, to the solitary woman above who lived with dozens of cats, and the sense of independence I gained from navigating those years as a solo female.
I guess you could call it my Sex in the City phase before Sex in the City and a priceless chapter in more ways than one.

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