*For my 300th post on this website, I’m going to share the first part of a three part short story/reflection on my first couple of months in New York. Those months weren’t easy and they were pretty much my lowest points in life (so far) but they were also worth it and I learned a lot about myself and the world around me in the process. Life is too short to not work toward the life you see for yourself
The game plan to move to NYC was simple:1. Get to NYC
2. Find a job
3. Find a place to live
4. Enjoy the next chapter of my life
Since I tend to be an over-analyzing planner I did do research on the neighborhoods I wanted to live in and the jobs I could quickly obtain to pay the bills. But I didn’t think too deeply about a Plan B. I know most people in my broke post-grad position wouldn’t dream of a move like this, especially when their degree isn’t leading to guaranteed employment but my optimism and ambition has got me far… Why couldn’t it take me to the overpopulated city of dreams?
So June 28th I grabbed my suitcase, duffel bag, backpack, bus and train tickets and made the biggest leap of my 22 years on this earth. The bus ride to Chicago was lengthy and the train ride to New York was even longer but by 7pm the next day I was outside the Pennsylvania train station. With my bags in hand I took a moment and looked around, amazed that the first part of my plan worked out. I actually fucking did it. I called an Uber to take me to my pre-paid hostel bed and basked in the bright lights of my new potential city. After I settled in to the NY Moore, I bought some cheap Chinese food from two blocks away, put Kanye’s 2013 masterpiece Yeezus on repeat and observed my surroundings from inside of the empty Chinese restaurant. I had 12 days to complete the next two steps of my game plan or I’d be on the next Greyhound bus heading back to the place I knew I didn’t want to live in anymore.
The next day I began my job search. Even though I had brand new a communications/broadcasting degree in my arsenal, I knew I need a job ASAP so I focused my attention on part time jobs at various stores and restaurants. Indeed became my best friend for the next three days as I copied and paste my resume to any application that fit my qualifications like a mad man. Aside from a couple quick and pleasant rejections, I knew my online search method wasn’t going to work as fast I needed it to so I took to Craigslist to search for open interviews.
Consider it luck or god’s grace to throw me a bone from time to time but I found an open interview for Trader Joe’s that was going until the end of that day. Instead of doing your typical interview preparation tasks like printing a resume or putting on a tie, I entered the directions on my phone and rushed out the door. With my sweatpants shorts on and no resume in hand, it didn’t hit me that I was about to walk into a potential job offer completely unprepared until I hopped off the subway and sprinted into the newly built store. As I looked around at people sitting in chairs, dressed in their business professional attire, ready to land that job I almost lost all hope on that interview. One of the managers handed me an application that I quickly filled out while trying to process how I manage to do some of the dumbest shit. My experience and personality was all I had with me to get that job and bring myself one step closer to my goal of staying in New York. The two interviews I had went amazing! Since I found out about the interview with no notice, I didn’t have any time to get nervous or over think what I wanted to say. I was confident the job would have been mine on the spot if I had took one second to throw on a button down shirt but I left the store knowing I made the best impression I possibly could.
Three unbearable days later I got the offer and you would have thought I had accepted an offer from Google. My excitement was on another level and I checked off another step on my list with a heavy sigh of relief. Finding a place to live was a little more difficult. Knowing that my funds were extremely limited and I wasn’t going to be rolling in dough at TJ’s, I knew my best bet at finding a place would be renting a room. Before leaving for NYC I was determined not to be one of those Midwest transplants that gets scammed out of their money and end up going back home defeated or become homeless when they have no other option. I created an ad on Craigslist and started my room search. Looking back at my ad it was full of “screw me over” details like “I’m new to the city”, “I need a place ASAP”, and “I’m open to live pretty much anywhere in Brooklyn because I have no idea where I should be living” and basically “Just take my wallet and rob me blind”.
The obvious scams were easy to avoid. Or when a deal was too good to be true it was probably because it was located in New Jersey. Before I lost all hope again I finally received two offers from two seemingly trustworthy potential roommates. I set up a date to see both places and told myself with the little time I had left in the hostel that I needed to make one of those offers work. A couple days later I toured both places. The first one was in a rough location, with pretty bleak transportation options and the room wasn’t worth the price. The second room was polar opposite. Located in Park Slope, I felt uncomfortable as soon as I stepped off the train to find the apartment. For people not familiar with Park Slope, the neighborhood is mostly full of upper class, older white people that can afford expensive brownstone apartments and trips to the nearby Whole Foods AKA not me. I can still picture myself awkwardly standing in front of… L the scammer’s apartment waiting to see how I was going to afford a place like that.
The initial rent offer was fair (but quickly went up) and the guy renting the room seemed sane enough (he wasn’t) so I instantly jumped at the opportunity to live there. I spent two pleasant days in my new home thinking I actually pulled this off. Groceries were bought, I slowly started unpacking and I was preparing to get through my orientation at work and start settling into the new city. But like most good things in life, my happiness sadly had to come to an end. Tuesday morning I hear a banging on the door that shocked me out of my peaceful sleep. I tried ignoring it hoping my roommate that told me not to answer the door (Red flag I know) would get up and see who it was. Finally I answered the door to a furious city marshal that had an eviction notice with my roommate’s name on it. I was literally speechless, stammering while the marshal and his movers started to evaluate the items that filled the small apartment. L the scammer finally wakes from his beauty rest and gives an unconvincing performance on why he hasn’t paid rent in three or four months.
At that moment I was feeling so many emotions but mainly I couldn’t process the amount of shit I had got myself into. I hadn’t even put my contacts in for the day and someone’s telling me repeatedly that I need to grab my items and evacuate the building immediately. I quickly pack my things, put my contacts in and plead with my roommate to give me back the money that was supposed to get me through July. Being the perfect example of the Craigslist roommate people warn you about, L ignores my disparate attempts and I stood outside of the building watching my life fall apart around me. Even though it was far from funny at the time, it was almost comical how fucked up my life had got in the span of a couple hours. But my life hadn’t reached its extreme low point just yet.
TO BE CONTINUED…