27 November 2009

Moving Day

Well, I've got about a dozen and a half boxes--about half of them books, or things related to books--piled around my living room. I'm going to sleep here tonight, in a canyon between some of those boxes and the wall behind the sofa on which I'm sitting. It's not a bad sofa, if a bit worn: The landlady insisted on leaving it here with me. "It's very comfortable," she pointed out.

That means my futon is in my bedroom. It's a convertible, but I might just use it as my bed. Then I could fold it back up, if I wanted to, and use the space in my bedroom for--well, whatever. And it's a bigger bedroom than the one I left.

Plus, John--Millie's husband--pointed out, "If it works for you, why buy another bed?"

They helped me with my move. Now tell me they aren't friends: It's the day after Thanksgiving and they could be doing all sorts of other things. But they helped me. And it left me in tears for a time.

Now they're not living next door or across the street from me. We're only about half a mile, if that, apart. Still, I miss having them as neighbors: They're the best I've ever had.

And, I miss the place I left. Maybe it's not the place itself, which wasn't bad, but the things I associated with it. For one thing, it was the first place into which I moved as Justine. My life as I know it now developed there. Finally, I had my operation while living there.

I must also say that my landlady there treated me well most of the time. But in the four and a half years I lived there, I often wondered whether I'd have to move on short notice. And that's precisely what I've done now.

About a year into living there, her father's health took a dramatic turn for the worse. One day, someone from a social service agency informed me that I would have to move because he needed to live in my apartment, which was at the street level. He was in a wheelchair and couldn't climb stairs.

I was literally hours away from moving--I'd paid a security deposit at a new place and was in the middle of packing--when she said that her father wasn't moving in after all. Turns out that he needed care that neither she nor her mother could provide. So, she offered to give me the month free if I'd stayed.

It wasn't the only reason I stayed. I simply didn't want to move, as I had grown comfortable in that place and neighborhood. Plus, I was rather liking the arrangement of living on the first floor of a private house with the landlady upstairs. If nothing else, it meant that the house would be well-maintained. And it was, until recently.

A few months ago, I noticed cracks in the plaster on the ceiling. Then parts of it started falling down. I asked her to fix it. To do that, I had to remove the bed from my bedroom. I'd wanted to replace the mattress anyway, as I'd had it for a long time. So I tossed the bed, figuring that I'd get another.

A family friend who is the superintendent of a building in another part of Queens did the job. He convinced my landlady that the room--in fact, the whole apartment should be repainted. That was in early October.

Well, one thing and another came up, and he didn't do the job. And, in the meantime, a city inspector came to the house. It turns out that the apartment from which I just moved is illegal. The landlady claims the apartment, which was created by constructing a barrier, was there when her family moved the house.

She asked me to leave the apartment "for a couple of weeks" so that she could board up the bathroom, remove or cover the stove, sink and refrigerator and have a new inspection. Then, she said, she'd like for me to come back.

I asked her what I could do with Charlie and Max in the meantime. Or with my personal belongings: If I left them there, wouldn't an inspector know that someone was living there? And, I wondered where I was supposed to go. I mean, I have friends with whom I could probably stay. But, to me, the only reason to live out of a suitcase is if you're traveling.

So here I am in my new place. At least, this time I knew about the city Department of Buildings website, where I was able to check the status of this house. I just hope this all works out for me.

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