I used to say before moving to New York City that it didn’t matter where I lived, or what I lived in. I was perfectly content with having to sleep on a couch for a month or three, calling nowhere and everywhere home at the same time. All I had cared about was being here and having a place to lay my head at night after a day of working the job that kept me feeling fulfilled. Naïve and whimsical sounding, I know.
What was the allure of New York, anyway? Why had I wanted to come here? And why the hell did I do so, so exceptionally unemployed? By that I mean that I had not even a prospect in the hiring department. The only guarantee I had to not immediately falling flat on my face was a savings account that would at most keep me sheltered, fed, and occasionally happy hour-ed for at least four months.
In fact, the end of each job interview left me feeling more insecure and doubtful of the skills I came with. What was the deal? I had solid internship experience and a degree in the right field to back me up and yet somehow I found myself losing confidence, losing my edge, losing my interest in wanting to do the one thing I loved most: write. Maybe I wasn’t as good as I had originally thought. That’s okay, I’ll find passion somewhere else – hopefully somewhere compensated.
But after three long weeks of treading to keep myself afloat, things began falling into place.
Like most young transplants in the city unequipped with daddy’s plastic, I worked two jobs so I could at least attempt to have a savings before an inevitable first rent check that comes with having your own place. Unfortunately, (yes, unfortunately) that meant my time on the couch had to come to an end. The benefit of couch surfing, by the way; is that your “rent” is but a fraction of the total cost to whoever owns the couch, and yet that is still probably the same as what your friends back home are paying for a one-bedroom place, complete with gym and pool access.
Nevertheless, I was thrilled to at least not have to worry about running to and from different interviews. There were two companies believing I could deliver (one literally – I was a delivery girl) so I was happy.
The idea of an apartment in NYC on an entry-level budget I understand is probably a disgusting one. You might envision water stained bathroom tiles, water stained ceilings, cockroaches crawling in the dead of night, cooking gas being indefinitely turned off without warning… and this, my friends, is exactly what I moved into. In my defense, the apartment showed well. But like all things that look good on the outside, or at least just that guy you had a crush on from high school, the inside was nothing more than an utter contrast.
We were without cooking gas for a little under a year, my roommate and I. This of course led many of the people in our building to file lawsuits against management, and on top of this, we discovered we weren’t the only ones taking up residence in our newly owned apartment. We realized we had the place to share with two cockroaches (so far), two mice, and the occasional centipede.
Despite it all, and in the process of getting our gas restored, we adapted and we were happy. We still wanted to be in New York.
I get phone calls all the time on my lunch break, from people back home asking me how long I think I’ll stay here, or how long it will be until the next siren sounds in the streets, making our phone call completely inaudible.
And I always respond with, “Until I let something get in the way.”