October 10, 2008
Just a year ago I hopped on a plane from Pensacola to Newark to seek living quarters in Hoboken. I spent two nights in a seedy motel in Jersey City (there are even now no hotels in Hoboken), and from there took cabs to the PATH trains. It was an adventure, but one I'm glad I won't have to repeat.
From craigslist I had gleaned the numbers of a few realtors, and had spoken to several on the phone before I left home. "You're calling from Alabama???" I had my modest budget, and had decided what I could tolerate in the way of space. I had lined up a place to see as soon as I got in, which turned out to be about 6 in the evening.
There I encountered the realtor, the first in a list of people with what I call "Hoboken niceness." I don't know what's unique to Hoboken about it, but almost all the people you meet in Hoboken, I have found, extend themselves to you in the first conversation and treat you as if they understand what you're about and have your best interests in mind. In the South, we put a lot of stock in Southern hospitality, and it's a real phenomenon, but this is just a little different. It's not necessarily genteel, or learned, it's just an openness and an instantaneous way of identification.
People from Hoboken will ask you a few questions, out of genuine interest, and build a whole conversation around your plight. They tend to be helpful and they usually have a sense of humor about all human intercourse. You gotta like them.
Okay, the realtor showed me a ground floor apartment, essentially a basement, which felt a little dark. It had access to the garden in the back, and the realtor and his wife owned a condo on a higher floor in the building. We chatted amiably, and I loved the idea of living in his building, but I wasn't in love with the place. My cell phone rang and it was a second realtor, who gave me the address of an apartment he could show me the next day.
When I told Realtor #1 that address, he said, "Hudson Street? That's one of the nicest streets in Hoboken. You have to look at it."
I walked to Buskers'--a nearby bar in a town full of bars, and had a drink. I wanted to find a place that I'd read about in the blog Philly2Hoboken, linked below, because, the blog writer, who didn't care for it, said they sometimes had blues music, which he also didn't like. The pretty bartender at Buskers' was whipping out exotic versions of Sangria and talking smart with the patrons, who clearly loved it. I asked someone if there was a nearby bar with a name like "Highland Fling," and drew blanks until I mentioned the blues.
"Scotland Yard!" I was told, and given directions. I held to my minimum of two more glasses of wine at Scotland Yard, but met a nice young man there whom I've never seen since. He gave me his card, and I emailed him a couple of times since I moved here, but he was just so busy that it never happened.
I took the Hudson Street place, as most of my readers know, but it turned out to be less than perfect for me, so I've since relocated and am finding my way about the Willow Avenue neighborhood.
Hoboken has its charms, and I found some of them right away, but this year has been one of discovery and many unexpected joys. Not the least of which is the pleasure of the company I get on this blog.