I’m currently in a small town in the middle of America. I want to someday movie to New York City and make my dreams come true. Do you have any advice about what it’s like?
—Moving on Up
Dear Moving on Up,The city so nice, they named it twice is America’s greatest concept. New York is like a giant lottery machine you put time and money into with hope of someday winning big. Each year 250,000 aspiring New Yorkers come to calculate how much money and time is needed to accomplish their dreams. I was one of them. However, you should be cognoscente of where to move and how to get there.
I first moved to the city of dreams with a suitcase full of them. A retail job took me from Georgetown to Midtown in three weeks. I settled on a place on the Upper East side, around the corner form Barney’s. The craigslist ad reads $585 to rent a room, including wifi and utilities!
Or so I thought.
It was actually $585 to split a room in a 5th floor walkup. Three people, sharing a bathroom on the 5th floor of the smallest apartment I’ve ever lived in, was a delusion of grandeur.
However, sharing a room, overlooking the park in Manhattan’s most exclusive neighborhood, had me drunk on it’s location. It was splat in the center of the civilized world.
My Manhattan apartment was the ultimate designer drug, a euphoric state took my high to higher ground each time the Upper East Side seeped from my pursed lips. However, like Freud before me, my miracle drug was a fraud. My high eventually downed after lasting several weeks.
While desperate and unable to afford the hi-life on the Upper-East-Side. I considered Brooklyn. My Sex and the City fantasy, quickly turned into Boyz in the Hood, the Spike Lee joint, when I finally moved to East New York two months later.
I responded to an ad on Craigslist for a room to rent in Brooklyn, and met with Thomas.
Thomas looked sharp and seductive in his suit and tie. I love a man in a suit. He overwhelmed me with his fragrance, layering them like liquors to create a chemical concoction that was bound to get you drunk. Despite the neighborhood, he convinced me that living there would be a good fit, so I thought.
Before the Days of Our Lives drama began, we shared tales of our relationship’s past. He was getting engaged while I was enraged from yet another failed romance. We shared wifi, a bathroom and kitchen. Thomas lived with me for a year, and I was under the impression that he was a cop.
There was a stranger in my house. I should have known that something was brewing, when he started selling everything in the house on Craigslist. Unfortunately, he was harboring more lies than the criminals he supposedly arrested.
Thomas had a mutant strain of OCD.
Once, when I forgot to close the shower curtain, he sent me annoying text message, insisting on how things should be left.
Then he decided to open our home to strangers. He moved in Ms. Parks, a senior citizen who spoke in a crazy West-Indian accent. I had no interest in living with someone’s grandmother.
Two weeks later, Thomas moved out and Jessica replaced him.
Jose informed us that Thomas lost his job last year. Not only was he deep in debt, he was also deep in denial, pretending to work five days a week and putting in overtime.
For whom the bell tolls when the marshals come marching in? While it was unclear who to pay rent to.
The domestic dispute between Thomas and Jose waged on while my sanity and property hung in the balance.
Thomas called me, whispering about how we should ignore Jose’s plea for rent money. Was this his last dance to swindle more money out of us?
Jose made his return, this time he brought in reinforcements, his brother Mike. I had more landlords than roommates.
I called Thomas immediately. I told him that Mike and Jose were here, and that they were changing the locks tomorrow and providing new leases on Thursday. I also mentioned that Ms. Parks’ let them in.
I didn’t want to believe what I was hearing.
“Stop letting them in,” Thomas said. “I told you guys not to do that.”
It’s not my fault that Ms. Parks was opening more doors for strangers than higher education.
The next day, the locks were changed.
Jose and Mike showed us a lease agreement with Thomas under an alias. Turns out that he wasn’t related to Jose either. We discovered that he matriculated to Atlanta, which was a far cry from downtown Brooklyn where he claimed he moved to.
I signed a new lease with the owners.
Three weeks later, Thomas called asking for rent money. I laughed and hung up the phone.
To you and the 250,000 people boarding trains, planes and buses to the five boroughs; if something seems too good to be true then it probably is. Being a dreamer is great, but having a warm place to rest your head on at night is priceless.
Enjoy your life responsibly.
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Got a question? Email your letters at [email protected] His advice column will appear on Wednesday.