so you move to nyc, fresh from california, with nothing but excitement and optimism for your future. you find a room in a hole in the wall apartment for $750 on 7th st. and ave. a, to be shared with a thirty-something guy whose idea of cleanliness is washing a sinkful of dishes once a month and waiting until the mold on the shower curtain is visibly reproducing by the second, but you're young, hungry, and could give a fuck about where you lay your head for the night because you're never home anyway.
a friend of a friend tells you she that is moving to maine for a few months to edit a film and asks if you would like to rent her fantastic one bedroom apartment, also on 7th st. and ave. a, for the outrageously low sum of $850 a month. you think you've just died and gone to heaven and say, by all means yes, i'll take it.
you and your boyfriend discover the pleasures of having privacy, a big bed, and a place to make decadent home-cooked meals (he's a brilliant cook, you're pleased to discover) and before you know it, a month has passed. that's when the phone rings.
"hi, it's your friend of a friend. so sorry to say that i've finished up a bit early. could you be out in a couple weeks?"
you scour craigslist during the free moments you can find between your three waitressing jobs and late night parties, and you come across an ad for a room that's $1000 on 7th st. and ave. c. without even looking at it, you decide you'll take it. it's two blocks away and at the moment, all you're worried about is finding a place to sleep for the coming month.
three years later, you find yourself in the same apartment, thinking about what a wonderful place it's been but that perhaps it's time to move on.
now it's november of 2006, the first time you've looked at the rental market since 2003, and you realize the landscape has changed completely. what you once got for $750 is now $1300, and with that comes a twin bed, most likely infested with bedbugs, and a common area that looks more like modern art made of takeout leftovers and cigarette ash. you suddenly realize that you are no longer that same girl who arrived in new york so full of excitement and optimism that any place with a roof and running water was good enough to call home.
now, you realize, you want something livable.
you search for that enigmatic apartment- one that has an actual closet and maybe a view. the view you can pass on, but the closet, you say, is non-negotiable.
this time around, you have a real job and a real salary so, you figure, you will be able to find a real apartment, but despite your good grades in math, your logical equation does not quite match the realities of the market. $1500, you discover, will get you half of queen-sized bed, to be shared with a fifty year old man who smells of sardines and mildew, in his harlem studio apartment.
utilities not included.
only the strongest survive.