The Stages of Hosting Tourists in Your New York Apartment

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You may find yourself hiding in the bathroom around Stage 6.  (Art by Thrashley!)

New York apartments are tiny. Everyone knows this. But because we live in the greatest city ever (objectively — no input required, thanks!) people from our hometowns always want to come stay with us. As transplants, we were in their shoes once. We probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the couch-lenders of our pasts. And so we pay it forward. It’s just what you do. Hotels cost too much.

There are several stages to every guest visit you will experience as a New York host. It is important to be aware of them so that when they occur, you know you are not a bad friend, cousin, daughter, or ex-coworker. Before we get started, you must remember: no matter how close you are with someone, all people have the capacity to be annoying. There are no exceptions.

Let’s begin.

The Stages of Hosting Tourists in Your New York Apartment

Stage 1: The Guilty Acquiescence

Your friend has just texted “Hey I’m coming up in 2 weeks! Can I stay with you?” and while that may be enough time to physically prepare, it is not enough to prepare emotionally for the amount of energy this is going to suck out of you. You miss your friend very much, but you remember the last time you had long-term visitors…that stain in the rug never did come out. Your first instinct is to say no. You want to tell them if they can’t afford to stay in a hotel then they just shouldn’t come to New York, but you know that is heartless and unreasonable, so you say yes. You begin resenting them prematurely for their week of free lodging, in your home for which you pay $60/day.

Stage 2: The Planning Stage

You’re starting to get excited about your friend’s visit. It’s been a while since you’ve seen them, or any friends for that matter, since you spend all your time working to afford to live here and “make your dreams come true,” whatever that means anymore. And when you’re not doing that, you’re sleeping. It’s not the City That Never Sleeps for the people who live here, ok? We have jobs. Anyway, in anticipation of your annual social interaction you start picking out the best restaurants, stores, sights, and activities you would never do with your city friends because no one’s schedule matches up, but that you want to make it seem like you do all the time. You start frantically googling “best rooftop pools” and pumping air into your bike tires. This is gonna be really fun!

Stage 3: The Prepping Stage

Not to be confused with the planning stage, the prepping stage is when you attempt to get your life together at the very last minute so that somehow, some way, you can find room for another person in it. You vacuum the rug, you wash your sheets (even though you’re just going to have to wash them again in a few days), and play Tetris with your furniture to figure out where the hell you’re going to put an air mattress. All miscellaneous items get stuffed into the back of your closet, if you’re lucky enough to have one. The OCD you’ve developed from living in tiny, mess-prone apartments starts to flare up, and you have to remind yourself that it’s only temporary, that you will only be without a walking path between the kitchen and the bathroom for a few days, and that most likely no one is going to step on your cat when they get up to pee in the night. At the very least, you reassure yourself, you will only have to tell your guest once that there are NO shoes allowed in the house, and that won’t be a problem because surely your friends are adults who don’t lose all sense of social norms the second they go on vacation. Right? You spend two whole days debating which would be less stress-inducing: giving your guest a key and trusting them to lock up your place which will definitely get robbed if they forget, OR waking up at dawn to let them in after nights of partying and forcing them to leave the house when you go to work. Speaking of work, you’re still trying to figure out what exactly they should do with themselves when their plane arrives smack in the middle of a workday. “Take a Lyft to my house. Not a cab, a Lyft. I will meet you there.” You request to leave work a few hours early.

Stage 4: The Party Stage

Your guest will be so excited to arrive that they won’t unpack any of their things at first, much to your relief. You set their suitcase in the corner of the room and let them gush about how cute your apartment is while you over-apologize for its small size and lack of amenities. They think you’re crazy because you have a decent apartment in — again­­­­ — the greatest city literally ever, so you have nothing to be sorry for! You start to feel pretty good about yourself, and realize yeah, you are kind of living the dream. You have something to offer! You crack open the bottle of vodka you purchased just for this moment, and drink cocktails while catching up in your fabulous home. You have dinner at the trendy restaurant you reserved, then go out for more drinks and maybe hit a club or two. You hardly even go to clubs anymore because those got old really fast, but all the stereotypical, silly BS about your city has just become interesting and fun again. Your guest’s innocence has already rubbed off on you and you make some ill-advised decisions. Why are you on the subway with a group of strangers at 4AM heading the opposite direction of your apartment? It feels like that first month after you moved here all over again, when anything was possible. But you already know how that story ends, which brings us to our next stage.

Stage 5: Pushing Your Physical Limits

Now comes the hangover, but it’s not the kind where you can stay in and watch cable and order Chinese. Nope! Your guest doesn’t want to waste their precious vacation time. You’ve got sights to see and desserts to wait on line for, and more shopping and museums than you thought one person could absorb in a matter of days. You’re suddenly regretting all those attractions you bragged about over the phone but you know it would be wrong to try and talk them out of it, so you take one for the team. On less than 5 hours of sleep, you put on your best outfit and a full face of makeup, because “sightseeing” is just a another word for “photoshoot on location.” You then walk no less than 14 miles around the city you claim to love so much while trying not to complain. In truth, you’re seeing parts of town you wouldn’t otherwise, and you feel good about not wasting your weekend inside on your couch. You just wish you didn’t feel so shitty for all of it.

Stage 6: Wits End

By this point you’re personally done with drinking. You’ll have to go back to work soon if you haven’t already and this lifestyle is not going to cut it. Your guest has totally abandoned the façade of politeness they presented when they first got here, and now their shit is absolutely everywhere. God forbid the visitor is your sister or best friend, or they’ve been rummaging through your stuff too, and now there’s no telling where theirs ends and yours begins. You’re going to have a rage stroke if someone uses another one of your god damn towels. The garbage is overflowing and everything smells like cigarette smoke (they can afford to still be smokers because the packs in their town cost less than $14). You’re exhausted and they’ve been here a while, so you ask as politely as possible if they might want to do their own thing for the last day. But it comes out more like, “I honestly don’t have time for this, or for that matter, any money left. So how about you do you and just buzz me when you need to get in, ok? Oh and for the 50th time, can you PLEASE take your shoes off? I’m sorry I’m just so tired.

Stage 7: The Goodbye Stage

Somehow, after spending what felt like months overrunning your personal space, your guest is able to fit their belongings back into their bags. You didn’t even notice them packing because you were still asleep. For some reason, every time anyone visits New York they leave on an 8AM flight, which means they have to leave your house, that is, wake you up, at the ass-crack of dawn to say goodbye. You put on your slippers, walk their suitcases down the stairs, and wait with them in the vestibule for their Lyft which will take 15 minutes or some equally ungodly amount of time to arrive. You hug your guest and wish them safe travels. You tell them you hope they had a wonderful visit and to “come back any time, really” though that last part doesn’t sound very convincing through your yawn. You go back to bed, and when you wake up they’re gone. It’s like they were never here, except that they used all your fucking toilet paper. And then you miss them. You realize how much having them here really grounded you and reminded you of your past. You feel a little empty inside without them.

Stage 8: Recovery

As you slide back into your daily routine and stretch out into your personal space again, you can finally breathe and reflect on all the fun you’ve had. You post pictures on social media to show everyone how effortless and carefree it all was. You do your laundry, clean your floors, ignore your bank account. Finally, you text your guest that you miss them already. “Next time,” you say, “I’ll come to you.”

“Scorpio and the City” & “Cray Gardens”

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By the time Alex arrived at my apartment from LA – 5 in the morning on Friday August 29, to be exact – I had been looking forward to it for at least a month. In the days prior, I had done laundry, I had cleaned every inch of my house, I had hung the paintings and mirrors that had been leaning against my walls since I moved to Ridgewood. It was of utmost importance that I make a good impression.

See, Alex and I have been close friends since 2008 when we lived together, along with two of our girlfriends, in a wooded neighborhood on the outer edge of Chapel Hill. I was 19 at the time, and thus a charming combination of messy, lethargic, drunk, manic and depressive, incidentally making me the perfect creative inspiration for Alex given his penchant for Dark Fantasies with a Strong Female Lead, though a not so perfect roommate. By this time in his life (age 21), or perhaps from the very beginning, Alex was a certified neat freak with an impressive work ethic, and with regard to his own life, he took pleasure in the simple things. The only decoration I remember seeing in his spotless room was a red silk Versace robe he hung as a curtain in the window above his desk (a desk, by the way, he used regularly, which is in and of itself a feat) that only made it off the hanger on Holidays and other special occasions. Let’s put it this way: He was the only college junior I knew who owned a Dustbuster.

It should come as no surprise then that we weren’t the best domestic match, seeing as my time at 151B Windsor Circle coincided with the height of Nu Rave (two words I am lucky to have never tattooed on my ass cheeks) as well as an era I now refer to as my “Opium Phase.” Let’s put it this way: When I ran into a good friend of mine from high school, Caroline, on the quad of UNC’s campus in the Fall of 2008, I told her I was spending my food money for the month to fly out to Las Vegas for a rave, to which she replied “Do you even go to this school?” I scraped by that semester with a grade point average that could be described as just barely mediocre.

To this day Alex likes to joke both in person and on the Internet that I continue to be one of the worst influences in his life,complete with assumptions that I remain as messy and disaffected as I was as a teen. He tends to fully disregard that while my blog is called The Fab Disaster, the whole premise is that, over the years, I have made great strides of improvement. I happen to be in the midst of an ascent towards a responsible, productive lifestyle!

I’d set out to prove this to him by scrubbing the grout in my shower.

Upon Alex’s arrival, I answered the door frowning and puffy-faced in pink Crocs and my late Grandmother’s bathrobe. I barely had time to give him half a grand tour before he passed out on my couch.

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California has really made this one more laid back.

Later that morning, as I had to work at 10 AM, I wrangled him along with James to take the train with me into Manhattan. Alex had plans to spend the day wandering the city, visiting Central Park and the Met then making his way down to Soho and Chinatown for a bit of a shopping spree. One of our many plans for the weekend included KUNST!, the monthly party at Verboten thrown by nightlife mogul and club kid once-upon-a-time, Susanne Bartsch. Having only seen the Facebook invite, Alex was already fully aware that he would need some very gay and very costumey accoutrements for the event, namely a collar to go with the leash (a purse strap) he brought with him from home. This wouldn’t have been an accessory of the Alex I knew in 2008, nor the current L.A. Alex I follow on Instragram, but when in Rome, dress as gay as the Romans do. I pointed him in the direction of Patricia Field’s on Bowery.

Another thing we’d been planning for weeks was our dinner that night. Alex called way ahead to reserve a table for two at Maysville NYC, a fancy pants whiskey bar and restaurant in the Flatiron district that would have been totally out of my budget were it not such a special occasion. The occasion, of course, was that Alex would be writing about the experience for his hilarious food blog, Eat Pray Shit. I brought the Vera Wang dress I got 90% off at Century 21 to work, planning to change and hop in a cab right after closing up shop to make our 8:30 reservation. I felt the outfit needed a little something, though, so while Alex was at Topshop with his friend Christine and our friend Moe, I had him look for hats that might go with the dress. He sent me a total of 7 pictures of hats that Christine enthusiastically modeled. When I found one I liked, I stressed that he try it on his head first. Most ladies’ hats do not fit my head, I’m guessing because clothing companies are sexist and thus unequipped for the amount of brain that this lady is carrying around. The hat I wanted was $70, so Alex made an executive decision to go for the slightly more affordable $48 option with a narrower brim.

At 8 PM sharp I darted into the bathroom to squeeze into my Wang – apparently my ass had gotten larger since I bought the dress back in February. I changed my shoes, had my coworker Steph zip me up, and stumbled down the front steps into a cab to the Flatiron district. I put my lipstick on in the dim reflection in the taxi window. Upon arriving at an unmarked entrance on 26th street, I hopped out, but not before my cab driver offered some sage, unsolicited wisdom: that I seemed like a strong woman who knows how to get what she wants, and I would live a happy life. Apparently cabs are the new fortune cookies!

Though I had been so worried about being late to the reservation Alex committed perjury to get, I miraculously made it there not only on time, but 15 minutes before him! It was home field advantage – my friend had misjudged his walk from the East Village. Again, this doesn’t matter in the scheme of things, just in the context of my constant battle not to even slightly disappoint Alex Rose. My not wholly irrational fear was that he’d show up a mere 2 minutes before me, have to wait, and say something along the lines of “you know you’re never going to be successful if you can’t even show up to dinner on time. Hahaha!” If Alex sounds like an asshole to you, well, it’s because he is. But we love him anyway.

He arrived in a Hawaiian print tank top and shorts, an outfit I loved simply because of how LA it was. I love anything LA. In fact, I love anything not New York, in New York. If only he’d have worn a sombrero.

Alas, we had a different conversation headpiece for the evening: the topshop hat. As I said, I’d had my doubts about sizing in the beginning, but my hopes were high. After all, the best hat I ever had in my life was a porkpie I accidentally walked out of Topshop wearing in the winter of 2011. It was tragically destroyed when I lent it to the alcoholic I was sleeping with that month and I would never be the same. Not until the new hat. This new hat could change everything.

When he pulled the hat out of the bag my heart sank a little. Sure, the brim was wide-ish and the top had a cute shape, but I could already tell at a glance it was too small for my head. It was due to blind optimism that I tried it on at all.

“It looks like it fits!”
“It doesn’t though.”
“Shake your head around and see if it flies off.”
“[shakes head] yeah but that’s because I’ve pulled it snug onto my skull. It doesn’t go over my ears.”
“No hat goes over ears, Kathryn”
“You can see my head bulging out the sides of the top. God damn it.”

This was no sisterhood of the porkpie hat. I felt like Danny Devito in Matilda, super glued to the rim of his fedora. What’s more, the porkpie of 2011 was free, and this one cost $50, which was as much as I’d budgeted for this whole dinner. It also turned out I had severely undershot that estimate, making it all the more necessary to return the hat and put the money back on Alex’s card before he headed back out west. We’d just have to zip down to Soho the next morning before heading up to 40th street to catch our Jitney to the Hamptons. Oh right, in all the fuss over the hat and the dinner, I forgot to mention that this whole weekend was planned around a Labor Day trip to visit our friend Kalee in her Southampton share.

We finished dinner at about 11 PM, and despite being able to count the hours of sleep I’d had on one hand (in Alex’s case, on one finger), we headed home to change into some goth stripper outfits for the club. I had no idea what I was going to wear, but I figured I’d throw some fishnet over a bathing suit and call it a day, per usual.Also per usual, I decided to go with the high maintenance hair option and have Hannah put in clip-in extensions all over my head. After about an hour of pulling and tugging at my skull as I wined like Quinn Morgendorffer and chugged Stellas, we were ready.

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Around 1 AM we clomped out of the house (I mistakenly wore heels) took the subway two neighborhoods over, and spent the next 4 hours standing in the middle of the pride party that never ends, overspending on shitty alcohol. Around 6 AM, we somersaulted out of a cab into bed and slept in our clothes.

I woke up 3 hours later according to plan. Jumped in the shower, packed my backpack full of Hamptons gear (a white dress? Cut offs? A turban? That should do it) and shook Alex out of bed.

It was 10:30 am. We only had an hour and half to go to the Good Deli, grab sandwiches, grab the L to the R, run into topshop, return the hat, get on the 6 train, and get to the jitney 5 minutes early before they gave away our reservation. Also, we’d had 3 hours of sleep and were feeling so sick we thought we’d die. Yaaaay!

Cut to: two hungover 20 somethings sweating and panting, jogging down broadway in, well, actually pretty nice weather. We got to Topshop by 11:20 and I waited for Alex on the front steps to return the hat inside.

And I waited
And waited

“Excuse me, where do you make a return in this store?” I asked the greeter
“On the third floor.”

Fuck. FUCK. We were gonna miss the bus. Just then I saw Alex sans topshop shopping bag darting through mannequins and overpriced accessories towards me at the exit-

“TAXI!” I yelled into the street as we both flailed desperately at the traffic. Remarkably, we snagged one. If my cab driver from that morning is reading this, wherever you are, know that I am sorry for emphatically screaming at you to re-route about 8 times because “first avenue will be faster, no third avenue! Noo you can’t make a left turn here GOD DAMN IT.” I really am a nice, polite girl usually.

We jogged up to the 40th street Jitney stop at 11:59. I tossed the keys to James (did I mention he’d been waiting there since 11:15 to get my keys?) greeted him with a huge kiss and and a self deprecating joke he probably rolled his eyes at, and boarded the Hampton jitney. That is, the bus that takes new york’s wealthy but not wealthiest, sometimes the not wealthy at all, the guests of guests of guests of guests, to a very expensive beach.

It was on this bus that, in the middle of an indigestion paralleled by none, I was informed that we may not have a place to put our things, much less a way to get to a place, when we arrived.

See, we were visiting a friend of ours who was in the Hamptons for the summer to work for a high-end boutique. The residence, which she shared with 4? 5 other ladies? was paid for by that company. Therefore we needed special permission to visit the house, and were expressly prohibited from being there unsupervised, ever, no matter what.

Conveniently, while our boarding approval was still TBD, we arrived at the Southampton jitney station at 2 pm, 6 hours before our host would get off work, and 3 miles from her residence. We were nowhere near the beach. This was gonna be fun.

First we checked with the Enterprise rental car people. I, being two weeks away from turning 25, was still too young to rent a car (though strangely, not too young to do any of the other age-restricted activities in America besides collect social security benefits or run for president) but Alex had us covered. That is, if we could find a car in our budget.

“We’ll take the cheapest car you have!”

“That’d be…an Escalade for 650 dollars a day.”

“No thank you!”

So we decided to walk the three miles up County Road 39 in the heat of the day, luggage in tow, for the sake of “adventure.” Also due to complete necessity, but adventure sounds so much cuter.

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“I think we’re the most interesting people in the Hamptons right now.”

IMG_9534 IMG_9535 IMG_9547We were covered in scratches (pictured above) from climbing down a hillside of thorn bushes to avoid being killed by traffic on a road with no sidewalk.

When we finally arrived at the house, there was no one to be found. Word on the street (literally Kalee texted us when we were on the streets) was that we still weren’t exactly allowed to be there…but we had beers to drink and selfies to take.

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Eventually, after relaxing for much too short of a time, we decided to go on a hike through a tick infested area as per Alex’s suggestion. Apparently everything in the Hamptons is infested with ticks. They did not mention this in Sex and the City. Alex used his powers of persuasion aka name-calling to bully me onto the trail. Luckily neither of us got bitten, because it would have ruined the gorgeous experience those trails were providing us. While exploring, we got the bright idea to follow the railroad tracks into town so we could eat at Public House restaurant.

On the way, we noticed something odd.

“Cool! Animal bones!”

We kept walking. We started noticing more and more bones, everywhere

“…cool?”

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As we continued,we saw and smelled about 10 decomposing deer carcasses,not to mention two live deer. It was disturbing, to say the least, but at least we made it to the restaurant in ONLY a 45 minute walk.

By the time we got to the restaurant it was dark. Apparently late enough for every female in the establishment to be a little fucked up…or are Hamptons girls just crazy? The lines were starting to blur. Just as we sat down two blondes girls at the table next to us just GAVE us their shrimp cocktail because they were “SO STUFFED,” then read us page after page of sexts from okcupid dates they’d had recently. Most importantly, we finally got to see Kalee and eat tons of bread before going back to the house and falling asleep to the Anaconda Fart Remix.

The next morning we hitched a ride with Kalee’s roommate out to East Hampton, where upon arrival – get this – we WALKED to the beach. Even though the water was freezing cold and it was a little bit overcast, I still got a little tan. And in any case, trudging through the Hamptons struggle is worth it just to be a spectator in the Horrible Parenting Olympics that seems to happen there all season long. Mothers lose their kids on the beach and don’t bat a single botoxed eyelid (presumably because they can’t), little kids FAR ABOVE the acceptable age of playing naked roam around with privates out. At the lobster rack, I watched a 4 year old almost jump out of a window while the mother studied the cole slaw menu. It was truly amazing.

But nothing says Hamptons Shame quite like Grey Gardens, the estate once belonging to Jackie O’s eccentric relatives. These days, it’s a lovely cottage with overgrown shrubberies out front and blue shutters. On the way back to Southampton, we googled the address and made a little detour so we could stomp around in the mulch and take a picture of the renovated property. But honestly, you couldn’t see a damn thing.

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On the jitney ride back the next morning, Alex and I barely spoke.Our feet hurt, we hadn’t slept, we’d spent every last cent of our money on lobster rolls. But I had just spent three whole days with my best friend talking shit, walking in nature, and laughing at farts, so it had been the perfect weekend. What more was there to say?

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