Chapter 2: Arrival

Tom and Daria walked through Penn Station pulling their bags behind them. It was like walking through a beehive there was so much activity. Their goal was the taxi stand on 7th Avenue. After being bumped, jostled, and sometimes blocked, they finally arrived only to stand in line. It felt like at least 20 minutes before they reached the front of the line and were actually getting into a taxi. Tom gave the driver the address of his apartment and they were off.

Daria didn't know what third world country the driver came from, but it was clearly one where the rules of the road were merely mild suggestions. It was certainly true that they made their way through the traffic of New York, but the experience was heart stopping. Daria could swear she saw her life pass before her eyes at least three times on the way to Tom's apartment! She was truly surprised when they arrived and there was not a trail of carnage lying in their wake.

Tom reached into his pocket and pulled out the keys to the door. They walked into the building and over to the elevator. Tom pressed the button. The sounds coming out of it sounded like a cat in pain.

Daria looked at Tom as the elevator door opened, "You really expect me to get into that thing?"

"It's fine. It is just older and makes a few noises."

"Kind of like my parents?"

"Yeah, mine too. Lately my mother's knees sort of squeak when she walks."

"Hmm. My Dad makes popping noises. I don't know if the sound comes from his knees or his hips. He's sort of like one of those kid toys with the clear ball, handle, and the colorful plastic things inside that make noise as you push it along the floor."

"Does he blame his father for that?"

"Only indirectly. Mostly he blames Corporal Ellenbogen and the obstacle course."

The elevator arrived at the third floor, the door opened and Tom and Daria exited with their luggage in tow. They turned right and walked down the hall to apartment 34.

"Ready?" Tom asked.

Daria deadpanned, "Sure. It's an apartment isn't it? It is not an amusement park or opium den, right?"

Tom turned the key and cracked open the door. First he turned to Daria and said, "Close your eyes!"

"Really?"

"Yes. I insist. Also, give me your hand."

"Very well." Daria closed her eyes and allowed Tom to take her hand. He led her into the apartment, though she was still towing her bags behind her.

"Now open them," Tom said.

Daria opened her eyes. She was clearly standing in the living room of a one bedroom apartment. The thing that struck her was that there was furniture. She saw a couch – it looked like one that reclined, TV on a TV stand, table with four chairs. Tom took her hand again and led her to the bedroom. It had a king sized bed with two night stands and a dresser. None of the furnishings were lavish, but they did look functional and comfortable. Back out in the living room, she noticed a worktable and chair plus a couple of mobile file cabinets.

Daria asked, "So where did all this stuff come from? You never told me about any of this!"

Tom chuckled, "Well, first I wanted to surprise you. Second, this is the value of having a good relocation person. I was able to see pictures of these things on the internet and then call the store and order them. I was even able to get a stacking washer and dryer, which are in the bathroom. When it was time for the delivery, the agent had someone here to meet the truck. They came in and set stuff up. I ordered the sheets and things out of a catalog and again the agent picked them up when they arrived and put them on the bed."

"I would ask you how you paid for all of this stuff, but then I know you are a Sloane."

"Be nice, Daria. This furniture is my graduation present. My mom was particularly insistent that I have some decent things in my apartment." Tom leaned over and gave Daria a quick kiss. "You are welcome to stay with me as long as you like."

"Thanks, Tom. I know. I love you, but we have been over this before. Tomorrow I need to start looking for my own place."

"And toward that end I have a surprise for you! On the table you will find a list of available studio apartments. My relocation specialist created the list. They are all in reasonable places at reasonable prices, well as reasonable as anything in New York can be. Tomorrow she will start emailing daily updates to you until your find something. Again, these places have been vetted. They are safe so that your boyfriend – not to mention your parents – won't worry."

Looking at Tom, Daria deadpanned, "I'm not sure if I should thank you or be mad at you. You know I want to accomplish things here on my own."

Tom took a breath. They had fought over this whole business of her 'making it' in New York more than once before. He had to choose his words carefully here. "Daria, you will make it on your own. However, that does not mean that you should avoid using resources you have available. Neither I nor the relocation specialist has pushed you to select any particular apartment. All we have done is see that you have a list of quality rentals. We are simply assisting you in shortening your search and making certain you do not get 'ripped off.' Please admit that this is helpful."

Daria looked at the floor and said quietly, "OK, Tom. I will thank you then. I won't be angry."

Tom took Daria's head in his hands and tipped it up to look deeply into those beautiful brown eyes. "So, let's unpack and then we can run to the market down the street and get a few groceries to get the kitchen started! The gift included silverware and dishes, which are in the cabinets. After we get some groceries we can try one of the neighborhood restaurants. We'll worry about cooking tomorrow."

"Sounds good," Daria replied.