1. In conjunction with last week’s cover story on people’s first experiences with New York and what draws them here in good times and bad (“Arrivals,” April 20), nymag.com solicited readers to contribute their own stories. We received quite a few good ones:
I was living in a women’s boardinghouse run by the Salvation Army my first year in New York. A deaf-mute stopped me one day on a quiet street corner of the East Village. I thought he was asking me for directions, but then he held up some paper with things scrawled on all sides and I realized what he was asking was, “How much to sleep with you?”
Move-in day, 2001, Sunnyside, Queens. My roommate and I struggled to move a futon mattress out of a truck and into our building’s elevator when two neighborhood guys offered to help. They grabbed it and fit it into the elevator without even taking the cigarettes out of their mouths, and yet somehow, even though they were a little dirty and creepy, we told them to come by our apartment for a six-pack that night as a thank-you for the help. (There is no logic behind that, we weren’t the smartest.) When they showed up, they brought their friend Eddie, who seemed especially creepy. We drank our beers, hung out, they left. A few minutes later Eddie rang our buzzer and told us he forgot something and could he come up and grab it? We looked around, and after checking the bathroom, we realized our new friend Eddie had left his crack pipe in there.
First apartment was the fifth floor of a walk-up on the LES. My roommate and I always joked that there was no need to visit the Tenement Museum, we were already living the life—bathtub in kitchen, hall toilet, phone lines hanging down the side of the building, etc. Our “broker” operated out of an old piano store, now Piano’s. My roommate was dating someone who lived in that Salvation Army place, which was annoying because they could only visit with each other conjugally in our place.
I was living in Corona del Mar, working as a checkout girl at the Ace Hardware on the Pacific Coast Highway (my mother has always said, “I will never give you a dime, but there’s always a plane ticket home, so you’ll never be homeless”). I didn’t have a car and was riding the bus to get around and had no job prospects … so I moved to New York for public transportation. Which is indirectly how I came to work at “Page Six.”
When I first moved here this summer, I found a sublet in the East Village. I had five roommates in a span of three months (one asshole, one weirdo, the rest were cool), a bedbug scare, and all kinds of crazy shit going on outside the building (car accidents, gang fights). A few months later, I was walking to my new apartment, and I noticed a woman and an old man walking in front of me. They were moving pretty slow, so as I sped up to pass them, I realized it was Lisa Kudrow, which is also when I noticed the camera crew parked on the sidewalk.
I got trapped in the freight elevator for nine hours: my first night in New York. My new roommate and I had just finished unloading the last of the boxes into our new Tribeca live-work space (this was like fifteen years ago). Just one more ride down the nasty freight elevator to return the Ryder. We stopped somewhere between the third and fourth floors. For the next nine hours I got to know my new roommate a whole lot better. We rang the alarm for hours, until someone from above screamed for us to “shut the fuck up.” Eventually we were reduced to urinating in the corner and utter silence.
I first came to New York City on New Year’s Eve of 1991. I was in the Marines at the time and had broken my leg in a parachuting accident (chute malfunctioned), so I had a cast up to my groin on my left leg and was on crutches. We celebrated New Year’s somewhere on the subway heading down to Union Square, where a girl I had just met gave me one of the best kisses of my life, then disappeared. I then met an attractive young lady who was fascinated with my injury story, and we retired to her apartment on the Lower East Side. Which was unfortunately a sixth-floor walk-up. There must have been 150 stairs, and me in a leg cast. But it was worth every step.
Within 48 hours of arriving, two different street people in two completely different parts of the city stopped me to tell me rather emphatically I was the anti-Christ.
2. In addition to these stories, we also heard from a handful of natives, who, like that neighbor down the block who yells out his window for everybody to stop making such a horrible racket, disapproved of all these tales of wide-eyed newcomers: “I hope these idiots realize that the New York that they so long for in their movies no longer exists entirely because of their presence. New York is now a city of millions of boring transplants walking around documenting each other under the guise of it being the greatest city in the world.”
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