64) 2017-Present. West 148th St, Hamilton Heights NY 10031

Apartment buildings are hard to photograph: it’s just a door and doors are boring. So instead, here’s a much more important part of our neighborhood: the open-24-hours Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins combo

Since starting this blog, I have documented many bizarre, unexpected, even unfathomable events. Hungry burglarsStraddling a sharkBecoming a minor celebrity.

This, the sixty-fourth move since 1985, happened on account of the most unfathomable event of all:

I got married.

So this story is the story of how I met my husband.

KIDDING, I promise this won’t take nine years.

It was a typical February 13. By “typical”, I mean I was single, and up to day six of a ten-day sulk about Valentine’s Day (I start approximately one week before, so that by the time the big day actually hits I have really hit my straps, sulk-wise). I was in a foul mood, and I told Twitter so.

Okay, I was in a foul and thirsty mood. Don’t look at me like that, you’ve been there too. And besides, it worked. Twitter is a filthy place.

Well, it didn’t work completely. Out of the tidal wave of butts and wangs flooding my DMs, there was one stubborn hold-out.

That’s right, this love story begins with a quote from Silence of the Lambs in reply to a request for nudes on Twitter. You know, the classic tale.

We tweeted back and forth sassily for a while, and then started messaging each other more sincerely.

Will is originally from Massachusetts, but at the time was living in Dallas. Two weeks after that auspicious Valentine’s Day Eve, he came to New York for the weekend and we had a 72 hour date.  It was half fling, half experiment—would this even work? Can we even hold a conversation in person? What if he doesn’t like salt & vinegar chips, or thinks Ross was the best Friend, or refers to Kylie Minogue as “British”? What if we hate each other?—But by hour 44 we had very much bonded. For the record: he loves salt & vinegar, his favourite is Phoebe, and he’s been a fan of Kylie since 2001 . That last one was enough to cement it for me: we decided to date for real, even if it meant long distance.

Every two weeks I would fly to Dallas, or he would fly to New York. Of all the ways I saw my moving to the U.S. playing out, making regular trips to Texas was not a plot twist I predicted.

While I actually quite like Dallas (there’s always a margarita within arms reach and it’s impossible to be sad in those circumstances—even the place that did my pedicure gave me one), it did remind me too much of rural Queensland to ever feel truly comfortable there. And before any more local newspapers come after me demanding I explain myself, drumming up fury from the localsI am speaking only for me personally, not slighting the place itself or any of its residents. There, we cool? Anyway, my point is Texas is very much like Queensland, except there are way more margaritas, and guns instead of cane toads.

Luckily, there was no real debate about where we would live if we ever wanted to end our period of dating long-distance. Will’s family are all in Massachusetts, and moving closer to the north-east was always on the cards for him.

And guess what city is located in the north east? (HINT: It’s a big one that people sing about incessantly and also the one I live in.)

the schuyler’s the limit

So in September last year we moved into an apartment in Hamilton Heights (hence the above gif), and in November we tied the knot.

So it turns out this long, arduous, 30+ year story does have a happy ending after all.

Well, I mean, not an ending as such. Old habits die hard, and 64 is such an awkward number. I’m already thinking about what we could do if we had an apartment with a second bedroom…

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63) 2017. West 136th St, Hamilton Heights NY 10031

Part of me was a little disappointed that I was already 36 by the time I finally moved into New York City. From what I’d gathered from my local friends (not to mention every TV show set in New York that has ever been made), you’re not a real New Yorker until you’ve got at least one “nightmare roommate” anecdote under your belt. But how would I manage this? I’d racked up 18 years experience living with other people; all I had to do was find one or two people roughly my age, with roughly the same level of experience, and everything would be disappointingly uneventful.

If Jurassic Park has taught us anything, it’s that life finds a way.

Stevie became my third housemate roommate (see, I’m assimilating to American life already) one month into my three month sublet in Hamilton Heights.

She was a bad housemate roommate before she’d even moved her shit into the apartment, by making me wait twelve hours to let her in.

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #1:
If someone has to be at home to let you in on the day you move, do try to get to your new place 
before 10:20pm on a Sunday.

She was all moved in by 11pm, and we set about the task of bonding as housemates roommates. This was slightly difficult as we’d never met before; I was a sublet tenant and so was she, so our living arrangements had been made by higher powers. But we were both Australians, so half the work was already done.

OR WAS IT? Because the second she found out I’d moved from Melbourne, she deployed one of the most boring, forced and pointless Australian cliches that exists: Sydney-Melbourne rivalry. I shit you not, she literally sniffed, arched her shoulders and spat “OH? YOU’RE FROM MELBOURNE?”

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #2:
When meeting the people with whom you are going to live, it is customary to wait at least 24 hours before being visibly repulsed by them.

To smooth things over, I hastily explained that I’d actually grown up in Queensland, and had lived a little bit of everywhere. Not knowing quite how to carry on the conversation, I tried to finish her half of the Sydney-hates-Melbourne equation:

Me: So, you’re from Sydney?
Stevie: Oh. Well. I mean. Sort of. I guess. It’s actually hard to explain.
Me: 
Stevie: My dad works for an international finance company, so I moved around a bit as a kid.

I MOVED AROUND. A BIT. AS A KID.

First of all, maybe you’ve heard of a little website called Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore?

Photo credit: Bodie Strain

This is literally the face I pulled.

Second of all: that took one sentence to explain. Things that are “hard to explain” take more than seventeen words.

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #3:
The people who wash their genitals in the same residence in which you wash your genitals may, in order to be comfortable washing their genitals in the same residence in which you wash your genitals, want to get to know you a bit better. Do try to have the answers to some basic questions prepared.

My relationship with Stevie never recovered. Nor did her relationship with our other housemate roommate, Michael.

Michael was a sweetheart who would ask you if you needed anything “from the outside world” every time he left the apartment. I never asked for anything bigger than an iced coffee, but I suspect I could have asked for a whole meal, or a piece of jewellery, or the still-beating heart of the fairest in the land, and he would have happily complied.

Exclusive footage of Michael being a right gent

The first (and last) time he asked Stevie if she wanted anything “from the outside world”, she asked for a bottle of sparkling water. He went out, ran his errand, and returned to the apartment with the best sparkling water he could find. Not just any soda water. Not a Duane Reade-sourced seltzer. This was some glass-bottled San Pellegrino bullshit. He’d gone all out (well, as all-out as one can go in a three-block radius). He handed the bottle over to Stevie with a cheery “here’s your water!” and without even looking up from her laptop she reached out, snatched it from his hand and continued typing in silence.

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #4:
“Please” and “thank you”. Do try to use them. Wow, I did not think I’d have to go quite so far back to basics.

Hey, while I’m on the topic of water, did you know that there are still people in their thirties in the third millennium of the Common Era who don’t know how to put a water jug they retrieved from the fridge back into the said fridge? Remember, this was a Manhattan apartment: the number of steps from the fridge to the counter and back was decidedly finite.

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #5:
If something came out of the refrigerator, do try to put it back into the refrigerator. 

Stevie also had a bad habit of locking us out of the bathroom and laundry when she wasn’t home. The bathroom could be accessed from both the main apartment and her bedroom, and in the morning she would lock the main access door and then exit the apartment via her bedroom, meaning we couldn’t get into the bathroom or laundry without going through her private space, which felt rude and intrusive.

Every time it happened, Michael would gently remind her that about the communal nature of the bathroom/laundry, and every day she would lock it again.

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #6:
Do try to avoid blocking your roommates’ access to the amenities. Such behaviour may be misconstrued as being unhelpful.

Of course, the “intrusive  and rude” feeling of having to go into Stevie’s room eventually dissipated, especially after I had to go in there to retrieve a stolen item. When I wasn’t home, she had pulled the Australia-to-USA power adaptor off the end of my laptop power cord and plugged it in in her room. On another occasion, after the Missing Australia-to-USA Power Adaptor Incident, Michael found a spare adaptor for me, but when he went to fetch it from where he’d put it, it had disappeared too. And then, as we approached the end of the sublet and Michael prepared to move to Europe, Stevie kept taking Michael’s things from the kitchen and squirrelling them away with her own kitchen items.

Patented and Exclusive “Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” Roommate Tip #7:
Don’t steal. I mean. Seriously. What the fuck is wrong with you.

By the time the sublet had ended, as sad as I was to leave my gorgeous street in a gorgeous neighbourhood of Manhattan, I was kind of happy to leave the nightmare of Stevie behind. Back out to my “family home” in Pearl River, with the rite of passage of a shitty New York roommate well and truly travailed.

Even if she did ruin it by being Australian.

AND from Sydney.

62) 2017. Pearl River, New York 10965

A tiny house sits halfway up a tiny hill in a tiny town 35 minutes north of Manhattan. It’s definitely a town, because the sign on the main street says the word “town” seventy-five times.

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go: PEARL RIVER TOWN OF FRIENDLY PEOPLE TOWN OF ORANGETOWN

Then again, I come from a state that has a city called Townsville, so who am I to judge?

In a beautiful piece of town history that sounds like a B-plot from The Vicar of Dibley, Pearl River is not the town’s original name—as evidenced by the distinct lack of any river, stream, creek, tributary or canal with the name “Pearl River” nearby. (Then again, I lived in a town called Tin Can Bay, and the bay was always pristine and free of non-perishables, so who am I to judge?) In its early days, the town had actually been called Muddy Creek. But who wants to visit a place called Muddy Creek?

Oh, what could have been (and yes, this does represent the very best of my Photoshop skills. I’m sorry)

And so they set about revamping the community’s PR with a swift name change. Keep in mind, this was hundreds of years before anyone even had a business Instagram account, so for the townspeople to be aware of #branding way back then is some tremendous forward thinking.

So. The tiny house on the tiny hill in the tiny town (of Pearl River formerly Muddy Creek Town of Friendly People Town of Orangetown) is where I first moved when I came to America on January 21st, 2017.

That tree is the perfect paparazzi foil

The tiny house is occupied by Tracey & her fiancé Chris, Tracey’s two kids Dance & Hockey (to maintain the privacy of the underage I am substituting their names for their main hobbies), and the family’s two dogs Big-Eyed Horse and Needy Petulance (the dogs are also underage, so…). And, for three months earlier this year, the house was also occupied by me.

How do five people, one normal-sized dog and one walrus-sized dog fit into a diminutive space? Tessellation, mostly. Oh, and by me living in the basement.

Yes, I got to serve neckbeard internet troll fantasy realness by being a man in his thirties living in the basement of a family home.

It was wonderful.

If you ask Tracey about my basement digs, she’ll immediately start apologising for it. She’ll say it’s too dark, it’s not pretty enough, there isn’t enough nice furniture, it’s too loud, it’s too bright, it’s too quiet, it’s too small, the wall is lumpy, it’s a cavern, a dungeon, a prison, a cellar. She started apologising for my living arrangements back in January and she only just ran out of things to apologise for yesterday.  But honestly, it was a wonderful set up. I had a bed and a couch (okay the bed was also the couch, but I like my furniture like I like my men: versatile), a plush rug, and the family’s spare basement TV. And can I point out? The “spare” “basement” TV is the biggest TV I have ever had the good fortune to sit in front of. The TV is so big I got sunburnt watching Mad Max. The TV is so big I got vertigo playing Uncharted on the PlayStation. The TV is so big my eyes have indeed gone square, just like my mum always threatened they would, but they’re now also the size of iPads.

Regardless, it was in this small underground cinema that I first started navigating life as a resident of New York. The state, if not yet the city.

Step One: Doing that thing all Australians do when they get to the northern hemisphere where they photograph themselves in a scarf and beanie in January with that look of surprise and delight, like “LOOK I’M WEARING A SCARF AND BEANIE IN JANUARY!” (I didn’t say it was inventive, cool or insightful, I just said it’s a thing we do.)

Turns out “starting a new life” is harder than expected. Not because of jetlag, or culture shock, or loneliness, or fear of the unknown, or even having to find a whole new favourite brand of laundry detergent. It’s just real hard to open a bank account.

See, like most Australian kids, I got my first bank account in my first grade of school, and I didn’t even have to do anything. It was 1986, and a very boring man from the Commonwealth Bank came to our class to give us all “Dollarmite Accounts”.

And that was it. We all had bank accounts. For the rest of our lives, opening any other account (or really doing any form of official business anywhere) was a piece of cake because we all had official identities in the finance world thanks to these furry squid-looking bastards.

Turns out “furry squid-looking bastards” don’t carry much clout at JP Morgan Chase.

To open a bank account in the United States I needed a Social Security card, three forms of identification, two different documents that prove my address, a letter from my employer, a lock of hair from an immediate family member, exactly 15 ounces of duck a l’orange, a utility bill, the Orb of Thesulah, the answer to the riddle “what walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three legs in the evening?” and at least five dollars.

It took nearly three months, but eventually I amassed enough paperwork to open my first American bank account. Then, and only then, could I finally I start living my life as an official New York resident.

Except then I learnt about “credit ratings”.