No, I’m not an orphaned red head living in the Great Depression. And no, I’m not an impoverished minority born in an urban ghetto. But this week I found myself simultaneously identifying with Annie and Jay-Z, humming “Hard Knock Life” each morning on the F train.
The problems began one fateful Wednesday when I was working late, editing a potential litigious piece in our winter issue. Determining that the second week of November was sufficiently late enough into the holiday season to listen to some Christmas tunes, I turned on Celine Dion’s “Happy X-mas” and got my professional groove on.
After 24 Christmas songs, I had completed my final edits on a 6000 word piece. I was elated, relieved, and ready to revel in the holiday spirit. And then, of course, G-d laughed. As I entered my apartment, I was greeted by a wave of cool air. The heat was not on, and the boiler most definitely had gone to that special place all boilers go when they die (heaven? hell? Staten Island?).
I did what any responsible tenant would do. I called the super– only to discover he had been fired for smoking weed in my basement. The new super, seemingly drug-free, promised to check on the problem and address it in a timely manner. Two days later, he had discovered that the problem was more serious than initially observed. We needed an entirely new boiler, and our management company was not going to provide space heaters or hotel accommodations while it dealt with the burden of ordering a new contraption for the basement.
A weekend without heat, and I was starting to reconsider the whole notion of living in the developed world. Angola- a war torn African country I’d recently become well acquainted with- was looking mighty appealing, and I’d always wanted to learn Portuguese. But, of course, G-d laughed again, and we had a gas leak, which was soon followed by no hot water.
And while the lack of heat and hot water might be enough to make anyone transform into a Scrooge, it was not what sent me into a “Hard Knock Life” tizzy.
Without the basic necessities of bougie Brooklyn life, I ventured onto the island of Manhattan and stayed with my wonderfully generous friend in her glorious one bedroom apartment overlooking Madison Square Park. For one week, I was a Manhattanite again.
As much as I have worked to make Brooklyn my own, to embrace the idea that I can make another borough my home, I really miss Manhattan. I miss feeling like I am at the center of something significant. And while I spend five days a week breathing the midtown madness, I have so little time to embrace the only place I’ve ever really called home.
So when the week came to its end, and I returned to my still heatless Brooklyn apartment, I curled up with Woody Allen’s Manhattan and feel asleep dreaming of my return: