Nothing says fun like moving bulky furniture around New York City.
Luckily, my parents loaned me their Jeep Liberty for a few weeks while I settle into my new apartment in Harlem. In an effort to take full advantage of the small SUV, I made several Craigslist furniture purchases starting with a dining room table set and book shelf.
The table, equipped with four stools, came from Greenwich Village and the girl who sold it to me helped me load it into the jeep. My next stop was a book shelf from Washington Heights. But I didn’t have time to drop the table off before picking up the shelf, so I decided to cram it all in the jeep. It was a tight fit and I ended pulling my back hatch down part way and fastening it with hockey tape — which held strong for the entire three mile drive down Amsterdam Ave. back to my apartment.
I pulled up in front of my building and breathed a sigh of relief, whew, I made it back. Until I suddenly realized that both of my roommates were at work and I would be moving all the furniture up to my third-floor walk-up apartment on my own. Or, at least I would try.
I opened the back hatch — well, I peeled the hockey tape off — I surveyed the bulky shelf and I tried to imagine myself dragging it up the stairs when a 17-year-old black boy dressed in a mint-green wife-beater, black shorts, and a too-big baseball cap with the tags still attached, emerged from the furniture repair store next to my apartment and he said, “Hey, you need help with that stuff miss?”
You have no idea, I thought. The boy then called out in Spanish to his buddy in the shop and they proceeded to carry my shelf and table upstairs for me, and then they assembled the table for me. The boy, Richard, reassured me that I am moving into a great neighborhood where everyone watches out for each other. He grew up in the project across the street and his parents are immigrants from Puerto Rico, which is why Richard is fluent in Spanish. He just kept telling me, “this is a real good neighborhood, miss. Real good people.” Well, any neighbors who offer to carry heavy furniture up three flights of stairs seem like good people to me.
The next day Richard and Nene returned to my apartment to help me assemble my bed frame. I intend to bring them cookies sometime this week.
Richard was right about everyone watching out for each other in my neighborhood, though. Friday morning I dropped a friend off at JFK airport and after typing the wrong address into my GPS, driving to Staten Island, paying an $11 toll, driving back out of Staten Island and back into Manhattan (another $5.50 toll) I parked the jeep around the corner from my apartment. As I walked upto the door of my apartment, one of the two older black gentlemen who sits in front of the Bodega on the street-level of my building said to me, “Did you park on the right side of the street? Because they’ll ticket you if you are on the wrong side.” I was so touched by his concern. He and his friend are like guardians of our building, a staple feature, they always seem to be sitting there, and they always greet me when I enter or exit my building. I love it. “Welcome to Harlem, miss.”
I’ll try to post pictures soon.