My First (Real) Apartment

For as much as I loved my office-apartment (because it was funny and free), a woman would cause me to vacate.  In fact, a woman has been the primary reason for every move I’ve made to this day.

I met Tracy through a mutual friend at a networking luncheon. She was seven years older than me and markedly more mature. She had a sweet finance job, apartment on Central Park South, interesting friends— she was a woman (no insult to who I’d been meeting but, in retrospect, we were all just kids.)

I desperately wanted to impress her and suspected my knowledge of where to get the cheapest beer in the city on any given night wouldn’t do the trick.  Fortunately, despite my paltry paycheck, the perks of my job served as the perfect wingman. Magazine reps frequently rented out trendy bars to schmooze clients and encouraged us to bring a date (which worked out perfectly because, since I had no power, nobody wanted to talk to me anyway.)  Tickets to concerts and sporting events often trickled down from upper management and, because I spent so much time in the office, I was often around to claim them first.

So at least once a week I invited Tracy to do something fun and hip that I couldn’t have afforded on my own.  And I thought my little system was working.

“Do you have a girlfriend?” she asked out of nowhere on our fifth date, a Counting Crows concert.

“I don’t know, you tell me.” I joked in a flirty way.  She wasn’t laughing.

“You schedule all our dates last second, you’ve never invited me over…”

Yikes.  Telling her I live with my parents would seem childish and “I live in my office” didn’t sound much better so I mumbled for a little then vaguely claimed to be “between places”.  She didn’t look happy and seemed ready to squash our budding romance– income be damned, I needed a place in the city.

As though I willed it, an interoffice email went around the next day for a three month sublet in a Bleecker St. loft with four other guys and I grabbed it.  I slept in a sort of storage area– you couldn’t stand up as the slanted ceiling stood 5 feet at its highest and beaded curtains hung in place of a door, which provided more irritation than privacy.  Moreover, my room sat directly above a bar where bands played every night until 4am, making it impossible to sleep before 4:01.  But it had a mattress and I didn’t need a bus to get there.  My confidence was soaring, I had a place in the city.

Proudly, I invited Tracy over for the night.  It didn’t go well.  The fraternity-like atmosphere pronounced our different life phases.  I now cringe as I recall her, in expensive lingerie, tangled in beads waiting for my roommate to vacate the bathroom as my bed vibrated from the bass below.  She must have been horrified.  In fact, thinking back I realize her eyes were saying “What am I doing here?”.  But being so proud of my first New York apartment, I didn’t realize anything was wrong.  My high school teacher once said confidence is being true to your circumstances— I was confident, if not a tad ignorant.

Tracy and I soon cooled off which, while surprising to me, brought an unexpected sense of relief.  I hadn’t realized how hard I’d been working to appear more grownup.  Trying to impress the woman you’re dating takes effort, pretending to be a whole other person is downright exhausting.  When things ended I slept for a week– bass drums and all.


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