Emma Smith is a featured blogger on Big Apple Brits

If Manhattan is an adult playground then we’ve defiantly earned our turn on the swings.

After tears, tantrums and some elegant accounting we have been deemed just about good enough to pay huge sums of money to rent our dream apartment, nestled on a tree lined street tucked inside the West Village. It has 5 whole rooms and proper doors and a kitchen that you could swing at least a kitten in. The walls are white and the floors wooden and shiny, a perfect blank canvas I think.

“It’s a blank canvas!” says the American. I scowl and begin to worry that phrases like that mean he might want to take an actual interest in the the interior decorating.

Unlike many of the luxury prison cells for rent, It has windows in every room. It sits opposite the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community centre, which is hands down the cleanest and most aesthetically pleasing community centre I have ever seen.

The American has been preparing a top drawer for this very day. Except it’s seemingly full of nothing but electronics.

”So I got us a TV.” he offers a few days before the big move.
”But we have two TVs already,”
”Yes but there are three of us, so we need three TVs.”
”No home needs three TVs.”
”Huneee, we need one for the living room, one for our bedroom and one for the Teenager.’
”We don’t.”
”Well I got it anyway.”
”How big is it?”
”Huh?” he says and tries to busy himself by fiddling with the air-con.
”The tele. How big?”
”It’s kinda big” he says distractedly.
”How big is kinda big?”

There is a worryingly long pause.

”52 inches.”

Oh. Dear. God. I swallow the orange sized lump in my throat.

”Okaaaay. So show me how big that is Matthew?”
”It’s 52 inches big.”
”Yeah, I get that, I am just saying, show me with your arms.”
”I can’t.”
“Cos my arms won’t stretch that far.”

The American is 6ft 2.

My sulk is only halted by his promise that if I leave the electronics to him, I can do the rest of the apartment how I like.

Before we flit to Manhattan in a cloud of Marc Jacobs and cupcake bakeries I bid a fond farewell to Astoria- cheap rent, elevated trains, the Korean deli that smells of cat’s piss, the 99c store and the Brazilian neighbours that put Christmas decorations up in September.

I want to go out in style so take a long overdue visit to the PS1 gallery, MoMa’s hipper, younger sister located in Long Island city.

As I cross the road an amazing smell is wafting in the air, like sugary doughnuts baking in the oven. I assume it is coming from the cafe. I wonder how quick I can rush through the art in order to sit in down and eat whatever the smell is.

I needn’t have worried. Aside from giant Woolly Mammoth skin suspended on scaffolding in the courtyard there appears to be not much actual art to look at.


I pay $5 to get into a building that looks like a deserted asylum and spend the next 20 minutes wandering into empty rooms or stairwells that lead nowhere, debating whether they are part of the art. I walk under the famous swimming pool exhibit and marvel at a giant room full of 2822 records. Aside from that the only art I can find is from a man who emptied his entire Berlin apartment and stacked all the furniture on top of each other. According to the blurb, everything will return to his home once the exhibition is done. I wonder what he is doing for furniture in the meantime-I hope he didn’t have to go to Ikea.

I spend 20 minutes trying to locate the cafe, to no avail and then am back outside sniffing the sugary air again. A little way up the street a group of hipsters are doing to same. Is this part of the art? Smell-a-vision. It beats the usual drains and garbage smell.

On the way home a woman next to me on the subway starts breastfeeding while a homeless man snores loudly opposite her wrapped in a sleeping bag. A group of Mexican buskers in full national costume then get on and start singing. Who needs museums when New York city is like one big art installation?


I make an unscheduled visit to the American’s office. There are several ginormous cardboard boxes stacked up in the corner.

”Oh Christ. Is that the tele?”
”Umm, no.” he tries to look busy on his computer.
”Where’s the tele then?”
”In storage.”
”What are these things then?”
”Just a few things essentials for the apartment.”
”Oww cool, like plates and cups and stuff?”
”No, not really..Hey, did you know we have Reese Peanut butter cups in the kitchen?”
”What is in the boxes Matthew?”
”Umm. Speakers.”
The boxes are 5 foot high.
”5 foot high speakers?”
”They are really slender.”
”I don’t care if they are anorexic, they are five foot high. And what else?”
”An amp.”
“Anything else?”
“Maybe a blue ray player?”
”Is that it?”
“I got an ipod doc too….well, 2 ipod docks actually.”
”Did you order us anything to sleep on by any chance?”
”Umm, no, but hey huneee I got us these really cool all-in-one remote controls!”
“We don’t have a sofa. We don’t have anything to sit on to watch and listen to all this shit”
”Don’t call my electronics shit please hunnee”

I stomp off to contemplate a new look for the apartment- chav lottery winner chic.


The night we move into the apartment and I am sat on a chair we stole from The American’s former housemate looking at the unwrapped beast that is the 52 inch TV.

Matt has hired two PAs from the office to help us move. They keep bringing boxes and they all have electronics in them. By the time they have finished the living room that looked a decent size is crammed full of boxes and not one of them has anything useful in.

At 3 a.m. we finally flop onto our inflatable bed.

”We did it.” I turn to The American with a huge Cheshire cat grin.
”I know huneee. We got a place in the West Village. Me and you. In the West Village.”
“In the village that is West?” I ask
”The village that we live in. The West Village.”
“The West Village where we live?”

This game goes on for at least 10 minutes until we fall asleep wrapped up in a duvet with no cover on and mismatched sheets. A few hours later I have a nightmare that a giant black beast is attacking me, until I wake up properly and realise it’s just the TV I can see peeking at me through the crack in the bedroom door.

I get up and rifle through a suitcase until I find what I need. Several hours later The American gets up for work to see 3 Cath Kidston strawberry print tea towels draped over the giant TV.

In the adult playground, let the games begin…