Dear New York,
It’s been a minute since we’ve had a chat, just you and me. In general, you’ve been kind to me lately. Your air is finally starting to turn crisp, the hot garbage perfume of summer being swept out by the smoky leaf notes of my favorite season. You’ve given me karaoke nights and poetry readings, outdoor movies farmer’s markets, drinks on my rooftop and lazy days strolling around the park. But there’s something that’s been on my mind lately, dear, and my mother said never to go to bed angry, so I think it’s time I got it off my chest.
I wrote to you last year, New York, about how unreasonably cruel and withholding you were when I was looking for a new apartment. You made me jump through seemingly interminable hoops, bled my over-worked printer dry copying form after form, and crushed me with an August heat wave as I drove back and forth through your crowded streets with a good chunk of my worldly possessions. But things worked out in the end, bless your heart. I’ve been in my apartment for a little over a year now and, despite noisy upstairs neighbors and perilously thin walls and a club around the corner that renders many of my weekends on the sleepless side (the police chief said he’s working on it, dear, but I do wish he’d hurry it up), I like it quite a bit. I’ve made it homey and cozy, decorated walls, and forged happy memories within its walls. I thought we were through having this housing fight, at least until I have to move again. But then one of my roommates moved out and we embarked on a quest for a third. And that was when I realized what I thought was a closed discussion had merely been tabled for later.
Before I go any further, I want to assure you that this story has a happy ending. We did find a new roomie, eventually, and she is lovely. But the road to finding her, New York, was a freaking roller coaster. The remaining roommate (let’s call him Todd) and I, started by putting feelers out, making it known to friends and acquaintances that we were in the market for a new housemate — and, hopefully, a friend. Todd and I sent dispatches out along the webs of our social networks, online and in person, hoping one of those lines would trigger a bite. But none took. In this city of constant flux, where it seems somebody is always coming or going or in search of a pad, the moment we opened up our home seemed to be the one time that all of our friends, and friends of friends, were already housed.
So we went further. Todd crafted a lengthy Craig’s List post, whose details and witticisms, we thought, combined fact and whimsy into a work of residential poetry. We futzed with phrasing and details for days, trying to strike a balance between the rigid (price not negotiable, no smokers or pets) and the casual (but we want them to think we’re fun and nice!). Finally, it was time to send our message in a bottle out into the internet ocean. The replies came fast and furious at first, Todd and I fielding emails and stalking Facebook (me) and LinkedIn (Todd) profiles all afternoon. We thought you were on our side, you see, rewarding our efforts with good housing juju and a speedy end to our quest. Boy were we wrong.
Your capricious cruelty really revealed itself the next day, when you sent us candidate A. A was sweet and funny, if a bit young. She effused praise for our humble home, gushing over how adorable and homey it was and swearing that it was “totally awesome and definitely her first choice.” She swore she was in, if we would have her. Todd was at volleyball, so I promised to discuss with him and relay our answer ASAP. We talked. We agreed. We marveled over how painless the whole process was. We sent her an enthusiastic yes, complete with our smiling selfie faces. And in return, A said…nothing.
It took a few days before the glow faded to anxiety, which finally sunk into the realization that you had punked us. We had been ghosted, no other word for it, and our confused little hearts spasmed with rejection and fear. Clearly, you weren’t in the mood to make this easy for us. We were going to have to work for it, hard. We pushed the panic away, buckled down, and reposted our ad. I was going away for the weekend, so Todd bravely fielded the bulk of the requests, showing off the apartment and giving his best sales pitch for why folks should want to be in the business of being our roommates. As for me, I waited.
Sunday night I got a text. “This is B. I showed her the apartment this evening, and she is amazing. I offered her the place on the spot. Sorry but she is so wonderful, I’m confident you would approve. I know you’re at the music festival but can you text her? She said she’d be happy to set up a time to talk with you tomorrow.” The text was swiftly followed by an email extolling B’s virtues and explaining why Todd felt sure this was the girl for us. “I need you to reel her in with your charm,” he said. I fired off a text, full of exclamation points and smiley faces, but not so effusive as to be creepy. I waited. “Did you talk to B?!?” Todd asked. “Texted her, no response,” I replied, with the “teeth gritted in anxiety” emoji. The next morning, you hit us with the news: B was happy to have met us, she thought we had a lovely home, but she had decided to go in a different direction. She wished us luck in our search.
At this point, things kicked into high gear. Since I work nights, Todd scheduled showing after showing, sometimes double booking, in the evening when he and the majority of our prospective roomies were free. It felt like we were on some warped dating show, one of those MTV deals where a parade of prospective matches goes by, sizing you up and swiping left. Each night, Todd would send me detailed minutes and analyses of the days applicants (nothing brings out Todd’s inner corporate executive like housing). Some were ok; some were clear no’s. But none of them came close to A or B. We were down in the dumps, beginning to despair. Would you really betray us like this, New York, leave us adrift and strapped with an extra room’s rent that neither of us was eager to take on?
And then, there was C.
C viewed the apartment on a Tuesday, at the same time as another candidate, D. D wasn’t a great fit, but she texted Todd afterwards: “Not the right place for me, but thanks for showing me your home! Also C seems wonderful and like a great fit, so I think you guys should take her!” All signs were pointing up, but we had been burned before. I quickly set up a phone call with her for the next day. I confirmed with Todd that, if I liked her, I should go ahead and offer her the room. I went to bed with butterflies in my stomach. Would she like me? Would I like her? All I could do was wait.
The next day, our phone date arrived. And New York, darling, you finally, finally came through. C had found us on the internet. She was not a fellow graduate of Todd’s and my alma mater or a friend of a friend. I had all sorts of visions of the perils of welcoming a stranger from the internet into one’s home, fueled by one too many viewings of Criminal Minds. And yet, within the first few minutes, something told me that C was the one. We chatted for a while, just to be sure. She nervously confided that we were her top choice, and she would be thrilled to fill out the paperwork ASAP if we wanted to have her. Taking a deep breath, I popped the question, officially. And C, in her words, said yes to the dress.
Like Goldilocks and the porridge, our third match was the charm. You took pity, I guess, seeing our stress, and sent us a roommate who is fun and sweet and clean and one of the kindest gifts you’ve given me in my time here. Also, she has yet to try to murder us in our sleep (as far as we know), so plus one for internet connections. Everything, I suppose, worked out better than expected, and in the end we lucked into a roomie who fits into our new triangle like a charm. But man oh man, New York, did you really have to make it so hard?
Until next time.