Today would have been my late husband M's 61st birthday. So much has changed since he passed away almost five years ago, especially our son D, who graduated from college last month, got a job in NYC and moved into Manhattan on Saturday.
"We missed the exit to the Lincoln Tunnel," said D as we drove around Jersey City. "My bed is scheduled for delivery between noon and 4:00 p.m," he added as we turned the car around and headed back to the turnpike to find the tunnel.
He is leaving me with an empty nest again, this time for the real world. He is leaving me with an empty nest, this time for a teeny tiny apartment that he will share with two other bachelor buddies in a tenement in NYC. He is leaving me, just as I left my parents more than 30 years ago, when I moved to the big city to start my career.
"We'll never find a parking space," said D as we arrived on his street on the east side of Manhattan. "There is a police station on my block so there is no place to double park." Surprise, surprise, surprise -- there it was, right opposite the police station, an open spot. ("I know your dad is looking out for us," I muttered as I thought of my late husband M. After I met M in the early '80s, we lived almost exactly one block away from where D is now about to live.)
D emptied out the car and carried boxes and clothes up the three flights of stairs. His sister A came along for support. She, too, moved to NYC almost four years ago.
"I'm here to help," said A as she dropped her purse in the car and pulled out a few items to carry. "What number is D's apartment?" "Eleven," I said, and off she went.
"Where is A?" asked D when he came back to the car. "I don't know, I thought she took things up to your place," I replied somewhat perplexed. D tried to call A, until we both realized that her smart phone was in her handbag, which was in the car. She had left about five minutes ago, so I wondered where she was.
"WTF," yelled A as she stomped out of another building. "I thought you said it was apartment 11. I was ringing the doorbell and knocking on the door wondering why no one was answering. "Ooh, ooh, ooh, close call, glad no one was home. That was the wrong building, how did you even get through the front door?" I said. "A woman let me in," said A.
I sat in the car under the bright sunshine as D and A emptied the car until only one pair of dress shoes was left for the taking. "I want to see your apartment before I take off," I said.
I walked up the three flights. There was the small kitchen (which D said can fit a table for two or three). There was the small bathroom (it was long and narrow and the medicine cabinet almost came off the wall when I opened it). There were the three teeny tiny bedrooms (D took the mid-sized bedroom, although I couldn't really tell the difference between the three bedrooms -- but I didn't say that.) There was the tiny living room (which will eventually fit two futons and a coffee table).
I walked back down the stairs being careful not to trip on the one step that was uneven. I got back into my car that was illegally parked in front of the police station. I drove back across 34th Street from the east side to the west to enter the Lincoln Tunnel (my heart was beating fast and thank you M, I know you were looking out for me -- I didn't hit anyone while driving across town).
I made it through the tunnel and drove back to New Jersey with an empty car. I wanted to scream and yell at the landlord and realtor who charged, as M would have said, "an arm and a leg" for this apartment. I wanted to scream and yell that this apartment "could fit inside my master bedroom, yes the entire apartment could likely fit inside my master bedroom. Okay, maybe inside my master bedroom and my loft area."
Instead, I called D and I said, "Hi sweetie. I love your new apartment. It reminds me of my first apartment in NYC. I had some of the best years of my life back then. I know you are going to have great times in your new apartment."
"Empire State of Mind" came on my iPod when I was exercising at the gym yesterday afternoon. I couldn't resist singing along in dedication to D's new digs:
"One hand in the air for the big city
Street lights, big dreams all looking pretty
No place in the world that can compare
Put your lighters in the air
Everybody say yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
(Come on, Come on)
In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made, oh
There's nothing you can't do, now you're in New York
Big lights will inspire you, let's hear it for New York
New York, New York"
M and I loved New York when we were young. I still love New York. I do. I do. I'm so glad my daughter A and my son D love it, too.