From the Steel City to the Big Apple
and My Quest to Find Home
Since I was in a small-town high school, I knew I wanted to end up in New York City immersed in the literary world of skyscrapers and subway trains. I knew I wanted to write and create and be stuck in a state of awe. Growing up in New Jersey, all I had to do was cross one state border northward and I was in this very real place that never stopped feeling like Wonderland on a corporate-high.
For grad school, I took a detour to the Steel City, which isn’t as drab in color as it may sound. In fact, Pittsburghers like to scream this over and over — Black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow. Though Pittsburgh has the green rolling hills and bridges (lots of bridges), it didn’t provide an enviornment in which I can thrive. Students in my grad program didn’t share my interest in young adult literature and I felt like this is where dreams of publishing went to die, milled by the remnance of factories loitering within the city.
A year before I was scheduled to graduate, I took off to New York City, the “publishing capital of the world,” according to one of my professors. I changed grad programs to be surrounded by people who love what I love and do what I do. For the first time, I did something for me and my career rather than putting someone — usually a guy — before myself. Proud and excited, I walked into my “newly renovated” Brooklyn apartment, pug in tow.
Fast forward three weeks later, and here I am: sitting on an IKEA futon and scrolling through Craigslist for another apartment. Orientation for school starts tomorrow. I am scheduled to start two different jobs next month, and I am still looking for another one. I have just finished sweeping up sawdust, dried compound, and the shattered remains of my childhood dreams (melodramatic but accurate).
Unable to afford Manhattan, I had rented a place with three roommates I don’t know in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The guys here aren’t bad. But the rental company is a nightmare, even to the scumbags I dealt with back in Pittsburgh who thought it’d be better for tenants to simply give them $200 instead of putting down a security deposit to be given back after the lease is over.
Three weeks into my current lease, I have no air conditioning, hot water, gas to work the stove, and a clean backyard sans broken glass. One week into the lease, we received our fridge, and only a couple days ago did we get a mailbox and Wi-Fi. Two weeks of the month have been spent with my parents because my pug cannot take the heat and humidity that envelops the apartment constantly — I mean, it’s August.
Nearly every day, the rental company promises all will get done, but obviously this is not the case. I am paying hundreds of dollars for a glorified box, which is pretty much giving life to the joke my friends teased me about in high school. I am trying to take all of this inconvenience in stride, as these are simply a slew of first-world problems, right? But with my mind clouded with a haze similar to the one settling inside my bedroom, my frustration and demoralization seems justified. Am I that dependent on a temperate enviornment and Wi-Fi to distract me when I’m out of my element? Yes. But that shouldn’t make me feel bad. I shouldn’t feel bad for wanting the amenities if I’m paying for them.
As I sit here with takeout food fresh from the microwave (because now we have functioning outlets) and sweating from the humidity, I can’t help but feel this strong sense of loss hope, not only for my dream of making it on my own in the Big Apple but of finding a sense of home. Where is my home, and where will I be happy? Because there is no denying my unhappiness now even if I try to find the silver lining.