There’s a mouse in our apartment. It doesn’t seem particularly bright, as we have no food here. I suppose there might be bagel crumbs – little sesame seeds that have fallen down into the cracks in the wood floor. Kin goes and buys bagels almost every morning. We live blocks away from one of the best bagel bakeries in Manhattan.

The mouse is quite slow, wandering around the kitchen floor in circles before scurrying under the refrigerator. I have Googled how to deal with pests in a NYC apartment. Steel wool pressed into the cracks and crevices between the walls and the floor. Kin says he will trap it and release it. It’s an old apartment building. I’m not surprised there’s a mouse.

We never had any mice in LA.

Our apartment in LA did have silverfish that hid under the bath mat and in some of the bowls in the cupboard. But LA felt largely vermin-free – I recognize that’s my imagination more than a reality. There’s something about the sunshine and the California compulsion to believe in “the new” that convinced me that that city was less dirty than this one.

It’s been warm and sunny almost every day since we’ve been here – almost unbearably hot some days, thanks to the humidity. Los Angeles’ heat is hot and dry, although Kin and I lived close to the ocean, so it was never unbearable. I’ve become spoiled by the temperate weather and unchanging seasons. When it dipped below 65 degrees in LA, I would moan and mutter as I put on a cardigan. A cardigan or a hoodie – my winter clothes.

It was chilly here in NYC this weekend – mid–50s or something – and it definitely feels like fall. I wonder how I’ll ever survive the winter. It’s been decades since I’ve lived in a place with “real winter.”

So far, our stay in New York has gone very differently from what we’d planned. We thought we’d just sublet housing for the duration of my fellowship at Columbia; one year here and then back to LA with lots of return trips interspersed – particularly when it got cold.

Instead we’ve rented an apartment on the Upper West Side – an ordeal in its own right. I’ve learned terms like “walk up” and “split box springs.”

We’ve bought a few basic pieces of furniture – bed, table, chairs – and we’re heading back to LA next week to pack up our apartment there, sell the car, and so on. We don’t have a lot of possessions, so it’s mostly a matter of getting books and artwork from one coast to another. (And then figuring out where to store it all in this new, much much smaller space.)

I’ve long described myself as “west coast,” insisting that I was better suited for life on the left hand side of the country. I lived in Baltimore for a couple of years during college and was miserable; Kin and I barely lasted six weeks in DC during his stint as a Presidential Innovation Fellow.

I will say though: I have always loved New York.

To be here – to be a writer here – has long been a goal, but one that I think I’ve been too timid to articulate out loud.

I feel a bit like our mouse at the moment. I’m not sure where to scamper for shelter or sustenance, and if I really plan to make it here, I’m going to have to face up to a lot of things.

(“Make it here” is a pretty weighty phrase, I suppose. More thoughts on Minnelli some other time. I have to find a therapist here first…)

Audrey Watters


Audrey Watters


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