Take Your Body from Bleak to Chic!

In my early-to-mid-twenties, my body was an unsafe neighborhood. During the day it was fine but when the sun went down, it became the perfect place for vagrants and sociopathic man-children named Teal to loiter about. They’d come knocking and I’d scream, “OMG, guests? For me?! Wow! Make yourself at home!” There was a total open door policy. If I had an iota of intelligence and self-worth, I would’ve hired some bouncers and made my body harder to get into than Studio 54, but I was 20 years old! The only thing I knew how to do at that age was to throw away important pieces of mail and eat masssaman curry under the covers.

So it comes as no surprise then that I was known as undesirable. “Oh, you’re going to Ryan’s tonight?” people would say with a cocked eyebrow. “Be careful. I heard shit gets REAL dark over there.” They were right. From the years of 2005–2012, anyone with a pulse could’ve moved in and, boy, did they! Past residents include a man that made me wash my feet every time we got naked, an alcoholic who could only stay conscious for the first five minutes of physical contact, a passive little person, a 50-year-old named Sam who owned a dry cleaners in Queens, and the occasional crooked penis. I didn’t care about myself enough to say no to any of these bozos, even though I knew they were destroying my property value. Whenever a normal, nice guy would exhibit interest in me, he’d hear a gunshot coming from my penis and run away screaming. I guess the saying is true: we accept the tenants we think our body deserves.

Eventually I came to understand that in order to be happy, I had to treat my body like it was one of those modern high-rises named The Blue instead of the floor of a gas station bathroom. This was an exhausting process — learning to love yourself is, like, totally hard!!! — but when I finally figured it out I immediately became more discerning. “I spoke with your references,” I would tell potential renters. “And they all said that you’re a narcissistic psycho who likes to play the ukulele after sex. APPLICATION DENIED!”

Suddenly a buzz began growing that my neighborhood was changing. The New York Times ran an article with the headline: “Nightmare Neighborhood Now Attracting Non-Assholes.” A Chipotle was built. Awesome, kind people visited at 3 a.m. and didn’t die. It was great! Occasionally past tenants like Teal would show up at my door late at night demanding to be let in and I’d be like “No!” and he’d be like, “Yes!” and I’d be like, “Okay!” But overall, things went from bleak to chic. “You can’t afford me,” I’d hiss to a guy who once stole my shampoo AND conditioner after a hook up. “You’ve been priced out, hon!”

Now it feels good to only approve people whom I know won’t destroy the place before they leave — if they leave at all! The goal of every neighborhood is to become so fucking expensive that only one amazing person can live there forever. It’s what Beyoncé did to Tribeca and it can happen to you, too. But until then, don’t settle for anything less. Life’s too short to live in a place you hate.

Ryan is a writer for MTV’s Awkward and also wrote a book called I’m Special, which will be out in June. He likes watching YouTube videos of Mary-Kate Olsen trying to speak.

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Image by Alex Torres

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