This week I woke up in a three bedroom apartment in Upper West Side with a cat named Maco to greet me.
How did I get here? My apartment lease doesn’t start until next month. Last week, my Airbnb reservation fell through after I woke up with bites on my lower leg. Were they mosquito bites as the owner suggested after I left the window sill open? Were they bed bugs from previous guests? Or were they cockroach bites from that fat roach that existed the bed after I woke up? I googled enough to want to stop googling.
I didn’t wait to find out. I packed up my stuff that morning, contacted Airbnb and made arrangements to leave. Sitting in my desk at work, I hated how dirty, grimy and sweaty I felt the past few weeks in New York. There was this (hopefully invisible?) layer of grime on my skin I couldn’t get rid of; I couldn’t feel clean, no matter how long I showered or hard I scrubbed.
This city has garbage everywhere. Rats and cockroaches were commonplace occupants in almost every building. The humidity had me sweating constantly. Occasionally, a thunderstorm will break the heat and transform the city into a hot sauna, which made me feel even more gross. Furthermore, I felt bloated and overweight, perhaps due to a diet that now consisted of eating out everyday.
As I was walking back to the apartment that day, Airbnb told me it notified the owner. I wanted to stop walking. Why didn’t they wait until I had gotten my stuff out? Now, I had to go up, talk to an angry stranger and do the awkward dance of getting my stuff out while politely conveying, “it wasn’t you, it was just the bites”. The owner was upset, demanded to see the bites, tried to convince me of the difference between the bug bites and mosquito bites, how I potentially ruined his “business”, how cockroaches were being addressed and how ultimately these bites were due to me leaving the window open (although it had a screen).
I almost had it with New York then.
As soon as I left and checked into my hotel, I felt better. I showered, did my laundry and called my siblings. In a thirty minute conference call between my brother, sister and me, we laughed at my expense.
My brother said, “your life on social media looks amazing but in reality you’re homeless in New York, sleeping next to cockroaches”.
It was true. It was all too true.
It is insane how social media is not an accurate representation of someone’s life at all. Everyone saw the scenic views, new friends and rooftop lounges, but no one saw the bites, the frustration in apartment hunting, the stress in figuring out my next move and the loneliness and uncertainty from eating dinner alone every night, moving from place to place with no family, dog or support.
That weekend I took a break from apartment hopping.
I made a hotel reservation for a few days near the World Trade Center. I slept in finally. I got back into working out. I began to run everyday. I took a mental break.
It made all the difference.