Trashio [Trah-shee-oh] Noun. A two by eight foot semi-enclosed slab of concrete where apartment-dwellers put their trash. 

I made this word up.  Trash Patio was too long. 

My apartment in Queens has a Trashio.  Ten tenants and a few scavenging critters share this glamorous front yard. 

Last week we got a new neighbor.  Move-in night, I got back to the apartment to find his friend smoking in the trashio, leaning against the brick façade, his legs angled outward to accommodate a stack of empty cardboard boxes below his knees.  “It’s so great that you have this space!” he called through the open window.  “You should have a Halloween party!”  I wasn’t sure what the connection between the trashio and Halloween was exactly.  Maybe he likes to dress up as smelly garbage?   I wondered about this for a while.  

One week later, I realized a terrifying truth-- I never once wondered why on Earth anyone would think it’s great that we have this space

That’s how desensitized to privacy and property I am living in New York.  I didn’t think, it’s really not that great to have a rectangle of concrete filled with piles of trash.  I think I may have even thought, yes, we are lucky.  Maybe this weekend I’ll take a book and a cup of tea out here and sit on that overflowing garbage can, next to that nice skunk. 

Because there are eight million people in this city.  Factor in tourists, and that number quadruples.  At least in my made-up, eyeballed estimation it does.  To be fair, I decided on this number while walking through Time Square on Saturday; it sure felt like 32 million people to me.  Across all boroughs, there are approximately 30,000 people per square mile.  That's 120,000 people after my eyeballed tourist influx.  

Therefore, space has become the most valuable thing in New York City.  More than what is inside that space, or what you can see from it, just to have a chunk of city that is yours alone, is what we pay for here.  And to have a space that is outdoors is a straight-up luxury.  

Continuing with the theme of me making things up and calling them fact, here a few real-life comparisons I have come up with to help non-New Yorkers understand just how difficult it is to have a place you can sit outside without being asked to leave or to give someone money...  

A shared balcony with an intrusive neighbor who sneaks his hands through the separation bars and swipes beers from your cooler when you aren't looking = a front lawn, back lawn and two-car driveway.

A walled-off balcony where you can sit and read the paper, or just sit back and listen to the sweet sound of a farther-away (but still very close) neighbor crunching tortilla chips = a pool with a water slide and diving board.

Any sort of grass at all no matter how secluded = several acres of forest with a bubbling brook.  

A secluded terrace = An actual castle.  In the clouds.  With a zen garden.  And fairies.  And rainbows.  And a magical fountain of eternal youth.  

Outdoor space has become such a symbol of extravagance that even a trashio is just cause for a party.

Because it can be exhausting to be on all the time, surrounded by millions of people, and not have a place to just be home.  To put down your day.  To peel off the mask.  AHA!  I get it!!  The connection between the trashio and Halloween!  I feel much better now. 

Love Love Love,

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