Homelessness, Made Tolerable by Greek Food and Air Conditioning

I’m currently sitting in a coffeeshop in the West Village called Grounded, applying for jobs on my MacBook and sipping a watered-down iced mocha. Anthony and I have been in New York for eleven days now. We’ve viewed two potential studios, met up with four of my friends, crashed in two different living rooms, and visited three boroughs. I’m homeless, unemployed, drenched in sweat, and somehow still happy.

Okay, I’m not completely homeless. Anthony and I spent our first five nights with his friends in Forest Hills, which has always been one of my favorite neighborhoods in Queens. Safe, leafy, and home to mostly middle-class Jewish families, Forest Hills was an easy transition from Livermore suburbia to the city. These friends, a couple Anthony met in Hawaii, reside in a fairly spacious one-bedroom apartment with an energetic dog named Koa.

I’ve only recently started job hunting, and that’s because I’ve been so stressed about finding an apartment. Apparently my brain can only handle so much. The first studio we viewed was in Clinton Hill. It was tiny (less than 400 sq. feet) and was only equipped with a mini fridge, two stove tops connected to a sink, and one closet. We are easy to please and started applying to this $1050/month studio. I’ve learned that the difficult part for Anthony and me is not finding a place we like, but just completing the paperwork process. The woman involved with the rental wasn’t the most dependable, and eventually we started looking elsewhere.

The second studio we viewed was much more promising. Located in Forest Hills, this studio was HUGE (600 sq. feet!), came equipped with a full kitchen, large closets, and was located in a co-op, which explains why the building was so pristine. All that for $995/month! As usual, Anthony and I quickly fell in love with the place, but the paperwork process has yet again been the excruciating part. However, I remain hopeful.

A week ago, we moved from Forest Hills to another friend’s place in Astoria, which is basically Greek town. While I loved living in Forest Hills, being walking distance to fantastic Greek restaurants is somewhat more enjoyable than being walking distance to Jewish and Russian restaurants; I love pork too much and am still struggling with the concept of eating kosher. The two people we’re currently staying with both work at Italian restaurants, and you can tell. Their kitchen is a dream, with restaurant-quality appliances and gourmet food stocked in the fridge and cabinets. I get ideas for my own future apartment every time I step into their kitchen.

Anthony started work last week, which has given me some free time to explore different coffeeshops, read East of Eden, and slowly apply to jobs. One thing I’ve learned through this apartment-hunting and couch-surfing process is that I am absolutely terrible at picking up and starting from scratch. I get to attached to things, to neighborhoods, to people. By the time we were ready to leave our first friend’s place in Forest Hills to move to Astoria, I had grown fond of the Jewish families, odd sushi restaurants, and even our once-despised 15-minute walk to the subway station.

Meeting up with friends in air-conditioned places, as usual, has kept me sane. I’ve gone shopping with Chloe, lunched with Erin, roamed art museums with Isobel, and survived another Jessica Alba night with Carolyn. I still feel very much like a visitor to New York, and I will probably feel this way until I find a home and a job. However, Anthony and I are finally in the city of Prada models, world-renowned chefs, and published intellectuals. More importantly, we’re surrounded by other people just like us, trying to make it in this city.


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