Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Toxic Shock Syndrome (Part I)

Photo credit: Chepe Nicoli
I decided that we absolutely, positively needed to move from Manhattan to Queens one week before I gave birth to Henry.

And so on the cold winter Wednesday of that week, I hauled my pregnant butt (and belly) to Long Island City to traipse unhappily around with a chirpy twenty-something broker. Not surprisingly, I didn’t find anything compelling.

Two days later, I took the subway out to Forest Hills, (also Queens, but much, much further), where I filled out an application for an apartment complex in which Rayne would never even contemplate living for one second. I walked around the business district snapping photos.

Rayne later listened patiently as I described how the E train was express! And super-fast to midtown! And it would be totally easy! And great! And we should live there!

I even researched public elementary schools in the area and compared them to others in the city.

I was serious. We were moving. To Queens.

The true culprit of this particular bout of insanity was cigarette smoke. Two apartments across from us housed chain smokers, and the smell of smoke pervaded our apartment. One of the women actually had a heart attack on Christmas Day and subsequently required triple bypass surgery. She told the morning doorman that she’d rather die than give up smoking. So inspiring.

I had spent five years hating the smell of smoke in my apartment, seizing every opportunity to give my neighbors the stink eye. Every inhalation of second-hand smoke expelled from my neighbors' lungs for the last five years was leading me inexorably to this freak-out.

What pushed me over the edge the week before I gave birth, however, was an incident with our afternoon doorman, who looked and sounded like he had left the Bada Bing, stepped out of my television, changed out of his blindingly white track suit and gone downstairs to make sure no one unauthorized entered the buildin’. Fuhgeddaboutit.

Apparently delighted by the newly installed video cameras in our laundry room, Bada Bing decided that it would be completely appropriate and awesome to comment to me that he “would recognize those legs anywhere” and that I was so big he “could see the baby moving” on the screen. Seriously? Seriously??

Henry's birth obviously put a kibosh on my Queens plans. And for a little while, I was so sleep-deprived and blissful and ignorant, that I forgot all about the cigarette smoke and the peeping doorman.

Alas, one day in February, the smoke was particularly bad. It dawned on me that Henry couldn't hold his breath in the hallway the way I had for five years. I snapped. I decided that we absolutely, positively needed to move to Brooklyn immediately. Rayne did a ton of research on apartments while I sobbed hormonally on the couch, lamenting the poison entering Henry’s sweet baby lungs. He called and emailed countless brokers while I continued to sob hormonally at the dining room table, Google-mapping every address and cross-referencing it with my elementary school research.

The result was a marathon three days of apartment hunting over Presidents’ Day weekend, Henry in tow. We signed the lease in short order for a two-bedroom apartment in the Clinton Hill neighborhood. The apartment is huge, a 1,250-square-foot loft with high ceilings and a lot of light. There's an organic grocery store and a great little Cuban restaurant in our building, which is conveniently located on the same street as the elevated and ever-disgusting Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

As that realization sank in, I experienced a second bout of insanity and uncontrollable sobbing.

To be continued....