As the year comes to a close, we all have a tendency to reflect on the twelve months past. Where did we start? Where did we end up? And are we where we thought we would be? The musical Rent asks the question, "How do you measure a year?" For me, it could be measured in the slices of New York pizza I've eaten or the less idyllic – the literal $20,000 I've spent on rent. For me, this year is all wrapped up in where it started: I want to tell you guys the story of how I moved to New York.
This is the story of how I saved as much money as could, maxed out my American Express with a security deposit for an apartment I never saw in person before signing a 6-month lease for it, quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to New York with $4,000 to my name and hoped I found what I was looking for.
For starters, a job.
Because I had three weeks before I was on the hook to pay $1,533.33 a month in rent for an Upper West Side apartment. Was it going to be anywhere near where I worked? Who knew? Definitely not me. (If I even got a job, that is.)
The nausea I woke up with on the morning of my one-way flight felt worse than any actual virus I ever had because those were curable. Or at a minimum, pass after you cross the threshold of a certain amount of hours. I threw up, but I wasn't sick, I was stressed. I think my exact first thought upon waking was, "What the fuck am I doing?" I mean, did I really just quit my job, move out of my apartment, and was planning to board a plane with one suitcase and just...the hope of it all working out? For anyone who knows me, failure, or at least what I perceive to be a failure, is the worst thing that can happen to me. Would I be returning to Kansas City in 8 weeks after my $4,000 ran out, broke and embarrassed?
There was only one way to find out.
I think my eyes were closed for most of my flight. I actually cannot remember anything that happened. Did I eat snacks? Order a drink? Listen to music? Was there anyone sitting next to me? No idea. I remember my mood, somewhat of a bad one. Irritable. I watched the plane pull away from the flatlands of Kansas City. Good riddance, I thought. But what awaited me upon touchdown? The only thing I knew for sure: My childhood best friend would be at the airport to meet me and take me to her Astoria apartment where I would sleep in her roommate's room I paid $900 to live in for three weeks. She was there at baggage claim and we took a cab from Laguardia to Astoria. After dragging my massive luggage into the small back bedroom, we walked less than 5 minutes to a diner to grab dinner. I ordered a bagel egg and cheese and a coffee. I wasn't really hungry.
"You live here now," she said, smiling.
"Do I? I guess so. It doesn't really feel like it." I shrugged. Even though I felt uneasy, I wasn't really worried either. What did tomorrow hold? I didn't know, but for some reason blind faith promised to keep me afloat. Or again, I hoped it would.
Within my first week I had two job offers and by the end of the month I had a gorgeous Upper West Side apartment, one avenue from Central Park. I felt at home, instantly. There was no adjustment, really. It just worked. It felt right, right away. Now it's December, closing in on my first full year in New York and I can honestly say I've had the best year of my entire life.
My New York story is far from over. It's really just beginning, as far as I'm concerned. I signed a lease through 2019, but I'm not sure I'll ever want to leave. I get anxious when I'm out of the city for more than two days. What am I missing? I just want to be back. I love watching the little lights twinkle in the skyline when I come in by bus. I love how loud and crowded it is when I come back by train into Penn Station. I love random nights that start out on the rooftop of a Fifth Avenue hotel and end on a Nolita sidewalk, eating a piece of pizza with your friend on the stoop of someone's apartment. The thing is, we'll all be ghosts of New York one day. There'll be invisible traces of us, our tears, our laughters, our smiles, just like there are of everyone else who has ever walked the sidewalks or shared slices of pizza or opened a bottle of rosé on their building's terrace in the warm summer air. New York will outlive all of us and all of our memories, but we're here now, making them. And that's what really matters.
It's good to be home.
By Kathryn Greene