I think of myself as a New Yorker. When someone asks where I'm from and I want to avoid the long winded ocean- and state-hopping answer I just flip out a "New York - and you?" I scoff at non-New Yorker concerns like my mother's - take a train at 4am? Why not! Where will you get cough medicine at this time of night? Why at the corner pharmacy! Aren't you going to take a cab? Oh it's only 15 blocks. Dinner? The world is our oyster.
But but but but but. I forgot that I had developed this whole New Yorker-ness over the course of four very particular years. Four years in the bubble that is NYU. I spent those years conveniently situated in Union Square and Washington Square and in "Chinatown" (but who are we kidding, it was really just the border of Tribeca). Enclosed in the safe parameters of NYU housing I blithely spent four years without really ever thinking twice about what to do if the sink got clogged or even if the light bulb needed to be changed. All it took was one service request and magically everything would be fixed. Not once did I stop to consider that I never had to take any measures towards safety other than locking my own apartment door. I never stopped to think of how much I appreciated having a security guard at the door. And I never really understood this creature called the New York City housing market.
After college I sympathized distractedly and detachedly with friends who couldn't find apartments, who were couch-surfing until an affordable find turned up. I spent my time ensconced in a small town, tucked away in my graduate school abode (which, as I now realize, would cost about 4 times as much in the City), unconcerned about sublets and prices and broker fees and water pressure.
And now here it is. My re-entry into New York. For the past two years I have pined - that is the only word - to be back home, to be back in "the City." My city. If ever I thought about housing at all, I dreamt of glorious loft apartments and doormen and metro stops right outside my front door. Unfortunately and quite abruptly, Craigslist brought me sharply back to reality with a stinging smack.
I troll Craigslist addictedly. I salivate over the $4000 per month luxury apartments that are exactly what I want - except that the budget is more than twice as much as I would pay. Security deposits necessary, utilities not included, hidden broker's fees...how do you weed through the sludge and arrive at your destination?
My bleary eyes get tired of staring at successive screens that all promise huge sunny affordable studios only to have them turn out to be small, dark, utitlities not included, $2500, need one month's rent + one month's security deposit...I finally post my own looking for housing ad: Law student, clean, quiet, no smoking, no pets, need studio apartment mid-May to Mid-July anywhere on east side of Manhattan either walking distance to Grand Central or close to a 4/5/6 metro stop, $1600"
Excitedly I check my email - a response already!
"I have beautiful apartment, not exactly studio but 2 bedroom share available 1st April to 15 June, 10 minute walk from F, V, in LES, friendly cat, your room is not a true room but don't worry there is a thick curtain and it is very private."