It began with an old 286 computer like this. It was huge. We’d plug in a floppy disk with a mortgage calculating program that would crash the computer every other time we’d run it.
I had a sunny, spacious apartment with parquet floors and a sunken living room for just $400 a month, but it was ‘way up in Inwood. The very last stop on the A Train. Late at night, it would be me and all the musicians from Carnegie Hall and other venues. If it were really late at night, you’d get stuck behind the garbage train. Then you knew you’d be hungover.
He had a fourth floor walkup behind the Museum of National History. And one day I got sick of waking up at his apartment with the belt I wanted to wear up in my apartment in Inwood. So I started staying at my place more and at his place less.
And he suggested that we buy an apartment and move in together. My best friend from infancy –our parents had put us in a playpen together while they grilled brats and drank martinis and smoked Lucky Strikes–had just done the same thing with her boyfriend.
So I called her.
“Mary, ” I said, somewhat desperately, “what’s the one thing I should know?”
“Closets, ” she said. “Closets. You’ll need ‘way more than you think.”
That was life in Chicago. I was in Manhattan.
I was on my own.
But, we had that mortgage calculator. And even though we were just a couple of reporters with five-figure salaries, and that big old 286 kept crashing, we discovered we could afford more of an apartment than we’d expected.