Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Turn

Since moving from to NYC three years ago, I've lived at ten different addresses. Of these, two have been lease secured. The remaining eight? Sublets--some involving full landlord disclosure (my current abode), others involving a thin handshake, "I promise to's" handwritten on a steno pad, and sheerblindtrust.

Early on, these dealings were about getting to know my surroundings, about not wanting to commit to a lease before I'd made the rounds through a few appealing neighborhoods. And yet after committing that first time (to a luxurious expanse of East Village real estate--ha), and then again, the urge to fool around is still there. It just seems to work for me, because since leaving my birthplace behind and several lives' worth of knickknacks to Goodwill, my sense of security isn't as tied to my immediate physical surroundings as it once was. So rather than wed myself to a single location, I choose to invest in successive short-term housing relationships, getting to know new blocks, new neighborhoods, new ways of living in the city.

Another thing, and I promise I’m not a creep, is that I like the experience of other people's stuff. (All my sublets have come fully furnished.) Dumping fusilli into someone else's pink plastic colander, flipping through the channels of someone else's TV using someone else's remote, rolling my eyes at someone else's dorm room-befitting Monet print: same effect. Sliding into a relative stranger's day-to-day external reality for a fleeting period of time can be, for me anyway, pretty invigorating. There’s something poignant and humane about it, about being made an object of some arbitrary person’s trust. They could be ripping you off in the meanwhile, but you’re generally (hopefully?) none the wiser.

Then there are the more tangible perks. For instance, I capitalized on the DVD collection of a polished movie producer and gawked nightly at her unimpeded view of the Empire State Building. I helped myself to the staggering personal library of a well-known Brooklyn novelist and danced the night away on her rooftop (above photo shows the view I had) several times over. And I sipped chardonnay on my private-access patio-for-a-month, which tilted over a backyard choked with giant ferns and passion fruit. (Yup, like the Amazon.) I had two sweet roomies that time, and I've kept in touch with both.

Of course, subletting hasn't been a nonstop garden party, as subsequent posts will illustrate...

Anyhow, following countless conversations with friends and acquaintances who have also subleased, or known people who have, I thought it would be neat to collect relevant accounts in a public forum such as this here blog. We’ll laugh, cry, gang up on repeat offenders...

Please, send your adventures along.

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