How to be Temporarily Homeless After Moving Across The Country

Give away as much of your stuff as you can. Have a sidewalk sale with your best friend. Nobody wants to buy your bed, so put it up for free on Craigslist. Feel okay about not making money from this transaction because an art student from Alabama is the recipient, and good “free bed” karma is something you will need. Sleep alone on the floor of your nearly empty apartment for two more nights. Pack up the car, make a final donation to the Salvation Army, and leave your favorite potted plants on the deck of your friend’s house as well as her mom’s house. Move the rest of your belongings to your parents’ house, hang out with them for three or four days, and cry like a loser freak when they drop you off at the airport.

Fly to Boston and get picked up by your friend that lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She will be your escort on the Chinatown bus from Boston to New York City. Spend a few days in New England with her family and friends. Ride a tall, borrowed bike around town while she is at work, go to a party in Maine, and go to the beach in Massachusetts. Be afraid of the creepiest, oldest graveyards you have ever seen. Walk down a grassy, woodsy path to the Portsmouth bus station with your New Hampshire escort crew and worry that Lyme disease infected ticks are going to blow up your spot before you can even get to New York. Successfully make it to Boston sans Lyme disease and get in line for the next Chinatown bus to New York City. One of your friends tells you that there is a food stop halfway to the city at a delicious chinese food restaurant. Sit with your knees up on top of your suitcase, and for two hours talk about all the chinese food you and your friends are going to eat. The bus stops at a combination McDonald’s gas station instead. Morosely eat french fries and drink diet coke.

Somehow sleep for two hours and wake up on a bridge into Manhattan. The New Hampshire kids are going to stay in a hostel together but you don’t have plans. A friend from college lives somewhere in Brooklyn, and you have casual arrangements to stay with him. Get off the bus finally, at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge with no sense of direction and a book with a subway map that means almost nothing to you. Little do you know that this book of New York City maps will be your best friend and save your life. Locate a train to Brooklyn that you and your friends need to take. You have directions to get off at a different stop and board another train to his house. Say goodbye to your crew, exit the train station, and immediately panic because you are alone in front of a sketchy supermarket parking lot with everything you own and no G train in sight. Hail a cab like a maniac. Arrive at the apartment a sweaty mess, but when your friend offers you a glass of water, everything is okay and you feel high on joy, relief, and hydration. Go out and get drunk. Get back to his house at 5 AM.

Spend the next few days exploring neighborhoods in Brooklyn alone. Bid your New Hampshire homies goodbye as they head back to Portsmouth. Alternate between sleeping at your friend’s apartment in Kensington and your friend’s apartment in Clinton Hill. Eat cheap bagels and try to remember not to say regular coffee because you don’t drink milk. Run into friends in town on a road trip and spend two or three nights with them on the floor of a rented room in alphabet city. Get an obscene amount of bug bites, fear that you are a bed bug victim, and throw the blanket you hauled all the way from California into a trash can on the street. Feel gross and hate everything.

Find yourself alone in the Lower East Side with no place to stay. Ask people you barely know via text message if you can sleep at their apartment. Do this every day. Wake up with no idea what the hell is going to happen. Stay at a hostel one night in a crowded room packed with bunk beds and foreign blonde girls. Ask a diner waitress in Brooklyn if she knows the phone number for a cheap motel. You call but are told that the rooms only rent by the hour. End up on a couch at a friend of a friend’s apartment at 2AM.

Get strong from hauling everything you own up and down the subway stairs on a regular basis. Apply for jobs, look at apartment listings, and charge your phone at ugly internet cafes. Stay in random restaurants and bars for hours when it rains because you have nowhere else to go. Feel intensely grateful every time somebody offers you a towel to shower with. Admire buildings in beautiful neighborhoods, and look at apartments in terrible neighborhoods. Send out resumes with someone else’s address on it because you don’t have one yet.

Pray for luck and coincidence; a girl that your friend went to high school with finds out you are in town and homeless and offers to let you stay at her apartment until you find a place. Meet her for the first time as she hands you an extra key. To you, this object is worth more than your weight in gold. Believe this girl is a saint for the rest of your life. Put all of your stuff down in one place for the first time since you arrived and rejoice. Not having to bring a huge bag of belongings with you to job interviews and apartment showings feels as good as using your friend’s free pass to Disneyland. Freak out when you get two job offers in one day, and use this energy to commit to an apartment in Brooklyn. Be fucking amazed as you remember what it feels like to be a real person. TC mark

image – Franco Folini


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  • suzie

    Hey.. I really liked this.

  • lula

    maybe you can let oliver miller stay with you. i hear he's still homeless. and since he's a fellow thought catalog writer….

    • Oliver Miller

      I'm down with it. By the way, speaking of homelessness and bus rides, I just took a 27 HOUR bus trip from NYC to New Orleans, and it was a *nightmare*. A fucking nightmare. I am speechless. I have no words with which to speak of it.

      • ilinwanc

        Lol Greyhound is the only way I travel (affordable), and it is almost always horrific.

  • Perfect Circles

    Do you still need a place to stay?

  • Anna

    Get a dog for no reason and sit on the sidewalk with it.

  • Webogirl

    Just did this two weeks ago all the way from San Antonio, except I have my 14 year old and a dog in tow. Holed up in Hudson Valley at a hotel. I drive into The City everyday job hunting. Too bad my degree in Biochemistry doesn't mean a damn thing. But, still….we're here. That's what counts, right?

  • Tré Martínez

    This could be a published memoir if expanded. I'd buy it. Just a thought.

    • Kelvin Lee

      You'll need to make it a blog first.

  • Pfft

    i hope you have a really good reason to do this and a really big passion to stay. Because otherwise, new york will eat you alive, and you will deserve it. trust me. If you just moved here to waitress and party, go back to Alabama immediately.

    • cst

      caitlin stewart truman liked this comment

  • SisterRay

    “Homelessness” aside, I feel like you still must be operating with a large sum of money that would allow you to commit to an apartment in Brooklyn after only receiving job *offers*.

  • star colonel marcus kotaire

    i agree with sister ray; as romantic as this adventure sounds, it's capital intensive. imho, there are better cities to do this in.

  • Dfasdf

    Or instead of struggling to survive find a cheaper apartment in Queens. But then you couldn't tell all your friends you live in Brooklyn.

  • Gabrielle Bodek

    Thank you for encapsulating this feeling, thought I was alone here

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