July 17, 2007

I’m beginning to think that it is my plight in life to carry heavy objects up great distances. I’ve been known to wonder aloud if I was a sherpa in a previous life.

It’s an interesting demographic that poor people live in flat areas and that as one’s monetary wealth increases, one moves up into the hills. Real estate being the way it is, a room with a view simply costs more.

And naturally, I have been living this demographic reality for most of my life.

In San Francisco, renowned for it’s hills, my first apartment was in a nice flat valley and was, in no coincidence, a poor immigrant neighborhood. (Okay, it was the ghetto. My neighbors were drug dealers and hookers.) As I established myself in the city, I found my apartments gradually climbing up various hills in the city. By the time I left SF 12 years later, my apartment was a Swiss chalet atop a stupendous hill that ruined the legs of many a bike rider and the knees of anyone foolish enough to run down it. I actually saw people training for mountain climbing by carrying their backpacks up and down the hill outside my door.

So as I climbed the real estate demographic ladder, I went from living above the corner market and carrying my groceries up a single flight of stairs to living in the San Francisco equivelent of a quiet suburb and trudging up a massive mountain with only the smallest of items weighing my down. A six pack of beer often weighed as much as a keg as I dragged it up that hill.

Now in New York City, I have found the same demographics but with a distinctly Big Apple spin. Instead of the valleys and flat areas of San Francisco, there are the pre-war buildings and 5 story walk ups. Instead of the house on the hill, there are the doorman buildings and tony elevator high rises.

And so I find myself back at the bottom of the real estate demographic ladder living in a five story walk up. Not the first time, I’ve switched ladders and had to start over climbing from the bottom. It won’t be the last either.

This time around though, I have myself a little 20 pound monkey on my back. A monkey named Archie who is too lazy to walk up the five flights and too scared to walk down them. (Fierce guard dog, that Archie.)

Couple that with a bag or two of groceries, a messenger bag full of papers and a laptop and I find myself considering a career change — to Sherpa.

Obviously, I have experience and although no formal training, I did have several summer jobs moving furniture which taught me the value of taking ones time and lifting with your legs. With a little dedication and oh, I don’t know, an actual exercise plan, I think I’m on my way.

Uh, but if we’re hitting Everest, Archie, you’ve got to walk.

(PS: The San Francisco hills kick ass over the NYC walk ups. I’ve been back several times and I’m completely out of shape by the standards of a pedestrian in SF.)

(PPS: I should note that Archie has recently learned to vault up the stairs two at a time and while he is still stubbornly reluctant to climb them, when does go for it, he’s a snorting, wheezing blur of action.)