Tonight I found myself in the east 20s off Third Avenue for the first time in several years. On my hike back to the subway after dinner I decided to make a small detour and walk past my first NYC apartment on 28th between Lex and 5th. I lived in this apartment for eight weeks, a sublet I found on Craigslist on a three day kamikaze apartment finding mission prior to moving out east from San Diego. I moved into the fifth floor walkup on a Thursday night, attended work Friday and woke up on Saturday, St. Patricks day, to people throwing up in the blackened snow outside the building. I was horrified that I’d left carnitas burritos, a backyard pool and pristine weather for this. Walking toward the subway that day I remember a distinct feeling of certainty that I would probably never find my apartment again.
Last week marked six years since that terrified 22 year old made her way toward Lexington to take the subway on her own for the first time and tonight I felt like I was seeing the neighborhood with virgin eyes. The closer I got I searched the building facades for familiar landmarks: the McDonalds outside the subway exit, the specialty spice market, the Indian food buffet I substituted for my 3am California burrito hangover food. I examined each bar for signs that it housed the smokers perpetually lingering outside our old doorway. Pretty soon I had crossed 28th and Lexington, then made my way past Park without latching on to any markers unifying the blurry memory of the entryway with the addresses I was ticking off in my head as I passed by them. After thinking every building was my old building for avenues on end, finally I intersected with Sixth Avenue and it hit me that I hadn’t lived on 28th Street at all. It had been 29th or 26th, but I couldn’t remember which.