SoloMoms! Talk

What I Learned Living in New York




Where you live can have a profound impact on your life.  

At one time, New York was the last place I wanted to live.  My only experience of the city came from horror stories of rats as big as a house and cockroaches who lived like pets.  My opinion was not swayed when I visited Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan in early late 1991.  But things took a turn in 2006.  And I haven't looked back.

"The mind of man plans his way. But the Lord directs his steps." ~ Proverbs 16:9

A few months ago, I moved out of my apartment in New York City.  While I was packing, sorting and storing my belongings, I started to reminisce about my time living in New York. Specifically, I remembered the unique experience I had with each apartment I lived.  

By remembering my experiences I realized that there were lessons to be learned from each place that I had lived.  

In a series of posts, I will briefly explain how I ended up at the location.  What made it memorable. And finally, what lesson I learned from the experience.

Part 1: Queens Rooming House

I arrived at 3:30 am with my two preteens in tow.  It was my first time in Queens and I’d never driven there in the dark.  The place was given to me by a professional colleague — sight unseen. 

 I was not prepared for what I saw when I dragged my two sleepy headed boys into our new “apartment”.  

First, it was one bedroom. Period.  When I turned on the light, an army of the current occupants and our future roommates scattered for cover.  If you’ve lived in New York for any period of time you understand what I mean.

I always travel with lots and lots of sheets and blankets. That was a blessing in disguise.

I covered the double mattress slumped on top of a box springs and told my boys to lay down.  Thankfully they were too tired to noticed what i had.  

I went in search of the bathroom to take a shower and almost gagged at the sight in front of me.  I can’t even describe the filthy condition of the sink or the green mold growing in the bath tub.  

What was a bone tires single mom to do.  I had just driven twenty one hours and was due of for at 6:00 am that morning.  

I was too tired to think straight.  I resolved to  a make the best of the situation.  Not that I had a choice.  Unless we were going to sleep in my car.

We stayed in the apartment for four months.  It gave me the start I need to get situation in a new job.  I was difficult.  I lived 2 hours from work in city I didn't know.  Worse I had to learn my preteen boys alone.  I was thankful that they didn't complain as long as they had food, drawing supplies, and video games.

What I learned from this cringeworthy experience is that:

  1. When you start on a journey, the conditions may not be perfect.  Use your current situation as a stepping stone.  This is one situation where you will want to look to the future. 
  2. Remember your why.
  3. Always ask for what you want.  I asked the landlord if he knew someone with a room to rent.  His reply “I’ve got a room” went unchallenged.  Ask questions.
  4. Being too tired to overthink my situation, I was able to take the time to settle into a routine that provided the foundation for the start to a new beginning.
  5. My children were oblivious to our predicament

Renting From My Friend

After four months, it was time to move to our own apartment.  But this was New York City, finding an affordable two bedroom was going to be tricky. Unless I didn't mind eating. 

Fortunately, I knew someone who had a rental about her home.  This person was my best friend in primary school.  We used to race home together after school.  challenged each other in class where we were always first or second ahead of everyone else.