Living in a material world and I’m a material girl.
These lyrics were sung at my last New York performance. After numerous glasses of wine, liquid courage drove me to the musical edge. At my going away party’s after party, my friends and I ended up at Uncle Charlie’s, a well-known piano bar in Midtown East.
Thanks to the grapes of California, I delighted the crowd with my Madonna tribute. Of course, I couldn’t remember singing at the piano, but this was just another fun filled day in my last month as a New Yorker.
After almost a decade (on and off) living in New York City, this California native was trading in island living for the hills without eyes. With naïve thinking, everyday would feel like a delightful piano bar kind of day. Unfortunately, one major obstacle stood between campy bliss and myself.
Arising from slumber, I took a look at my studio apartment, which would stand as a memory, within weeks. Books, records, clothes, linens and old US Weekly magazines littered the pre-war grandness.
Jitters arose from a typically perky demeanor (well for New York). This apartment had to be emptied out, cleaned, and everything shipped to California in a limited time. On the excruciatingly hot day, I packed all my belongings.
Like most urban dwellers, my apartment was a fifth floor walk-up, no elevator. Bravely, I carefully made my way down the stairs with goods being moved to Riverside. After hailing a cab, I headed to the UPS store.
Successfully and expensively, the goods were en-route to the left coast. Taking the long way home, Harlem’s temptations were inevitable. Coffee shops, bakeries, and parks to sit down and read. Displaying great discipline, the allures of park benches, coffee, and croissants were dodged.
Huffing and puffing my way up to the tenement building’s top floor, I entered my apartment. “Shit, there was still stuff to ship. I forgot how miserable moving could be.” Even with the air-conditioning running, the extreme humidity bogged down energy.
More stuff was left over than expected. Laying spread eagle in bed, anxiety filled the cranium. “Shit, fuck, shit, I know, I should clean out this apartment in one day, but I’m going out for wine.”
With glorious procrastination, I traded wine and pizza for the hellish joy of moving boxes and cleaning. It was a grand decision. A week later, it was back to moving. Only, my apartment had been filled with more stuff than expected.
Many trips were spent going up and down six stories (the trash bins were in the basement) to thrown belongings and trash out. Sweat formed on my t-shirt, in the shapes of kangaroos, Japan, and apples. It was an exhausting journey.
Everyday moving stuff out, I’d discover a new cabinet filled with more old mail, magazines and clothes. It was more horrific than any Twilight Zone episode. What was anticipated as a single-day move, turned into a week long cry-a-thon of boxes, stairs and man-boob sweat.
With only a few days left in Manhattan, the joyful thought of old Riverside kept motivation up. By the final evening, the temperatures were hotter than a fire-breathing dragon’s tummy. I was still throwing out stuff. Not everything fit in my luggage, either. Stress took over. My car to LaGuardia was to arrive at 4:30 A.M.
Past midnight, stuff was still being thrown out. At 4 AM, I made the last trip to the basement, showered and dashed to the airport. Crossing the RFK Bridge into Queens had a greatly liberating quality. The “Great Move of 2016” was over.
Although, my apartment wasn’t completely empty, it was empty enough. Goodbye, hellish move, hello, California. The plane took off at 7 AM. Below, I glanced at the gridlock below. Cars were rushing into Manhattan, as I had left the island for a new beginning in old California.
Leaving New York didn’t fill me with emotion. Moving out proved a frustrating and mentally exhausting experience. Once, the plane flew past the bustling George Washington bridge into the Mainland U.S.A., aka Jersey, I was officially heading home.
After a layover in Dallas, this California boy made his cheeky comeback. With bags under my eyes, skin, which mirrored Chrysler building greyness, and a tote filled with dreams, I braced myself for a new career in education and suburban living.
Staring at my records, books, and posters, I’m reminded of the struggle, which it took to ship. It makes me cry every time. With a newly minted fondness for Southern California, I reveled in drinking countless glasses of white wine and singing “Material Girl,” in the privacy of my own track house.