Day 323 of self-isolation and day 184 without gas/heat.
The past few days have been the coldest New York has experienced this season, and even with 4 space heaters constantly running, my apartment has dipped to a low of 52 degrees. It’s been very uncomfortable, and I dread leaving the covers of my bed to put on a coat and gloves and do my design job at my work computer. I’m joining Zoom meetings in a trapper hat, and I’m designing email headers with fingerless gloves. My toes are cold even with thermal socks and slippers, so I’m usually standing in front of my computer to keep my blood flowing.
One day, I thought, we’ll have gas again and all will be well and warm and I can use a proper stove.
On Friday, I get a call from my landlord and texts from my remaining neighbors saying that the pipes froze. Luckily, because I’m by the source and near the electric water heater, I still had running water.
This morning, at 3:30 AM, I was finishing up Spider-Man: Far From Home, when I thought I heard rain outside of my window. I knew NYC was going to be hit with a snowstorm in the next few days, but there was no precipitation on my weather app.
Then, the doorway to my bedroom started dripping a lot of water — it looked like it was raining inside. I quickly entered my room, and all the walls were leaking. Every single fucking corner. The sound of water rushing could be heard above me: a pipe had clearly burst.
It’s early in the morning, so I couldn’t reach my landlord. The superintendent picked up eventually, and I called 911 to shut off the water. My super was on his way, but he instructed me to check the two vacant apartments above me for any leakage; there was none, so the water was probably coming from inside the walls (side note: those other two apartment were very small, so I definitely lucked out with this building).
The FDNY quickly came and turned everything off. As the fireman was leaving, he said “You’re not gonna have gas either,” to which I explained we haven’t had gas or heat since August. He shrugged, and left without saying anything else. No advice, no empathy.
The super eventually came and inspected everything, and I apologized for waking him up. He made sure the water was off, and as he looked inside my bedroom, he looked at the wall of all my dog photographs and asked which one passed away. I pointed to the middle one, and my super of four years said “That was a good dog.”
Fortunately for me, I found a new place nearby. Before the pipes froze, I already put in a deposit and am just waiting for the proper documents to break my current two-year lease and a time to sign the new one. Truly, I had so much hope that I could stay. I thought I could wait things out, and the city would turn on our gas and that my landlord would get everything fixed. It was a tough choice to leave, but for my health and sanity, it’s time to close this chapter in my life.
I was sentimental at first, nostalgic over the happy memories I had in my current apartment; it was my home for the past 4 years: I built an amazing home with an amazing backyard. I had amazing rosemary and mint and lavender plants in a garden I tended for years. My climbing rose vines were coming up nicely. I hosted parties where friends would grill, let their dogs run around, and sit beside a firepit.
Then I realized, no — the past two years had horrible memories: my dog died in my arms here. I got furloughed. I got kicked out for 1 month for that facade falling. I’ve cooked on a hot plate since September. I’m freezing in January. And now I can’t even keep warm and sleep in my sopping-wet, water-logged bedroom. I can’t even drink a glass of goddamn water. No, I’m leaving this apartment with bad memories.
My plan was to completely move out by February 28th and try to appease my current and future landlords by paying rent at both places. After this morning, with everything wet and no water, I’m feeling less than diplomatic.