A wise old friend told me that prior to beginning my apartment search I should preemptively apologize to my boyfriend for any future altercations because the process was going to bring out the worst in both of us. Said friend tends to be a bit of a curmudgeon so I disregarded his advice; it turns out he wasn’t as crazy as I thought.
After viewing 17 apartments together – not including ones that we vetted on our own – working with half a dozen realtors, sending nearly 100 e-mails, fielding endless phone calls and re-budgeting our New York existence down to a nub at least 50 times, we finally signed a lease this week.
In addition to the challenges that are just part of doing real estate business in New York City (read The Apartment Games), we had a philosophical hurdle from the start. My boyfriend, who shall be granted the pseudonym Einstein, was used to living within an arms length of every convenience possible – grocery stores with real cheese (not like the government cheese in my neighborhood), multiple entertainment venues, doormen, you know…things worthy of the hashtag #whitepeoplestuff. In exchange Einstein was willing to give up solitude, fresh air and a little sanity. His pick: Midtown.
I, on the other hand, will never shake my Midwestern roots and actually believe that a “spacious one bedroom” does not exist in New York City and that vomit-free sidewalks the day after St. Patrick’s Day are a right, not a privilege (as opposed to spandex which is a privilege and not a right). I also tend to go “Jet Blue” when surrounded by too many people. My pick: Not Midtown. What to do?
I had heard of this concept called “compromise” once, but having lived on my own for such a long time I couldn’t tell you much about it. I had already crafted a fantastical story in my mind about how living on the brownstone-lined streets near Lincoln Center would position us to bump into someone like Tina Fey who would in turn invite us to her apartment for a quick drink, become enthralled at our wit, style and grace and earn us a permanent place on her Polish doorman’s “it’s-ok-to-let-them-in-without-buzzing” list.
It was also a dream, seemingly no less fantastical after trudging through myriad failed relationships, to meet someone like Einstein who would, while being incredibly intelligent and handsome, be able to spin out a politically incorrect joke at just the wrong moment and offend everyone in the room - except me. He would also have to possess the patience of a saint to want to live with me at any juncture, survive a few of my occasional hag-storms (both public and private) and tolerate going to the opera, a lot…and not fall asleep…usually.
Looking for an apartment together brought up a lot of touchy topics that we hadn’t discussed before: money, future career plans, past relationships, money, negotiation styles, money. It gently reminded me to take the long view of what’s truly important, which is always a good lesson, and actually listen to someone else’s position instead of trying to hard sell my own.
A few hours after signing the lease I realized that while Tina Fey might have to come downtown a few stops on the subway to become our best friend (which is still going to happen, mind you), any home where I get to start a life with Einstein is the right one for me. Vomit be damned.