The Fire & Us: An Update as of 10.21.11

Today marks the completion of our first full week back in our re-new apartment! It has been a VERY happy homecoming. When last I updated you (on January 19), we were about to live in an apartment in Long Island City through August 1. We thought that would be long enough to move from there back into our renovated apartment, but we had to move two more times after that. First we moved back in with JC and YY (who graciously let us and our cats live with them for a month—for a second time). That took us through Labor Day weekend. Surely (we then foolishly thought), this would be our last move before our homecoming. Construction on our apartment had been finished since August 15. Now we were waiting for the NYC Department of Buildings and the NYC Department of Housing to conduct inspections and lift the vacate order that was keeping us out. That turned out to be like waiting on line at the DMV while everyone is taking their break before going on vacation for a week—and they’re planning on sneaking out of the back door while you stand on line with the wrong forms in hand. Each time we thought our building managers (who were awesome through this whole ordeal) had finished all the necessary steps to get the vacate order, it seemed as if one of the departments would spontaneously generate more hoops to go through. It was like asking someone what you have to do to get from point A to point B, and they tell you. But what they’re not telling you is that point B is just one sub-step on the way to point Z which is really where you’re going. And then thy feed you one more step at a time, all the while making you think the step you’re on now is the last one.

Needless to say, we weren’t able to move home by the first week of September, so we made our penultimate move and began living with my husband’s parents. It was nice to be somewhere we could stay indefinitely. It was nice to live with loving family and have the luxury of LF cooking meals, AF making jokes, and IF playing with imaginary characters in the bathroom (unless I had to pee—which was often), but it was also a tight fit in that small bedroom—on that twin size bed—for the four of us: me, my husband, and our two cats who didn’t get along with the cat or dog my in-laws have, so we were all in there…litter box included.

Back when I last updated you in January, we had no idea how long we’d be out…how many times we’d have to move between December 27 and the day we got to move home (six!)… or how many gifts, life lessons and opportunities this loss would bring. We learned how to live with just what fit in my car (in two or three trips)—how much less than what we had we actually needed to be comfortable. We were fully embraced and cared for by the friends and family around us—we were blown away by generosity. We got to be on TV (NY1 interviewed us. You can still see the video here: http://queens.ny1.com/content/131759/couple-works-to-rebuild-after-elmhurst-fire). The Red Cross put our story up on their website, and then interviewed us for their fund-raising video. Then they asked us to speak at the annual Red Cross gala at the Plaza Hotel. FF had grad school, so I did it alone. You can see a picture of me here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30084374@N02/5818565487/in/set-72157626806532457/. And whose speech did my speech follow? Niki Taylor’s—a speech about how blood from the Red Cross saved her life. That’s right, I had to walk up on stage—in heels—as the following act to a supermodel the very same week Shania Twain fell walking to the stage at the CMT awards. No pressure, right? Oh and that picture of me I linked to…I had to pose for that after Niki Taylor posed for hers. Can you see in my expression how I’ve been humbled? Speaking at the gala was terrifying and fun, and also meant getting a head-to-toe outfit a la personal shopper at Lord and Taylor because all of my dress clothes were damaged or in storage—I’m talking from shoes to undergarments to earrings to purse.

That Long Island City apartment was also a gift. Because we had a few months there, we were able to get somewhat settled, put down some shallow roots, but roots still. We had luxuries we couldn’t afford except for the fact that our insurance company was paying for them: a doorman, a roof deck with a beautiful view of the city, a gym. Having a doorman was a great gift given that we were in the process of replacing all of our stuff and opted to order almost everything online. Those doormen saved us countless trips to Fed Ex, UPS, and the post office on those days they would have been, “Sorry we missed you.” And then we moved back into Manhattan, living in Union Sq. As I’ve mentioned before, living in Manhattan, and in such a convenient and interesting neighborhood was a longtime dream of mine I thought would go unrequited.

And now, almost ten months later, we’re home again. The apartment is completely renovated. They had to gut it down to the foundations. The floor plan is the same, but the floors, walls, electrical—everything—is newly implanted. Some things I’m still adapting to. My muscle memory reaches for light-switches that aren’t where they used to be. A few of the apartment’s charming character-giving details were replaced with what I’m sure was a time/cost-saving alternative, but almost everything else is new and improved. And our name will finally be on the intercom (!)—or so they tell us.

It is so good to be home. Thanks to our renter’s insurance, we were able to replace (and sometimes upgrade) almost everything we lost, and the things we didn’t replace are things we don’t need. And thanks to my recent struggle with insomnia, we’re almost entirely unpacked—there’s just one more lamp to assemble, one big and one small box of stuff to go through, and one more bag to unpack—none of which are my responsibility (ahem, FF). I do have a bag of old cell phones and miscellaneous cords and connectors to make heads or tails of, as well as the rest of our pictures to hang. But that’s it. 80% of our living room furniture is here. The one missing piece (on backorder) comes on November 1. We’re sleeping on an air mattress again until our bedroom furniture comes on November 7. We learned the hard way (back in the Long Island City apartment) that cats and air mattresses don’t mix, so Carrie and Mr. Big have been banished from the bedroom for now. We’re also technically still living out of suitcases—each one lined up against the wall and filled with our clothing, but that’s okay. I don’t care. I’m home.

Here’s the picture my husband took of me when I got home from the Red Cross Ball. No Niki Taylor in sight, so I’m a bit more comfortable in my own skin.

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2 thoughts on “The Fire & Us: An Update as of 10.21.11

  1. Pingback: Feeling Blessed & Guilty | Write Away

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