Ah NYC, I think those of us who live here have a love/hate relationship with the city or we just find pleasure in receiving punishment like Anastasia Steele from 50 Shades of Grey. *ha ha* NYC doesn’t make much easy, I call it the city of compromise, but somehow it makes you believe it’s okay to compromise because you’re living in the best city in the world, which a lot of people would kill for. Everyone around you is experiencing or has experienced the same thing, so you end up just laughing about it over brunch while having mimosas at a trendy restaurant where you might just run into Taye Diggs and he comes to you and says “excuse me is this seat taken?” *screams* yup that actually happened!
Anyway, back to the point I was trying to make; as I mentioned previously, my NYC apartment burnt down three months after moving to the US from South Africa and I had to start the whole tedious, extremely expensive and exhausting exercise of looking for another apartment. This involved me having to compromise on my needs yet again. Sounds like finding love doesn’t it? Guess that’s why they say finding the perfect apartment in NYC is like finding the perfect guy… it doesn’t exist! *haha*
After searching for an apartment during the worst time of the year, January, when the market isn’t only quiet, but it’s as cold as Mars! I’m talking -18 degrees Celsius during the day and even lower in the evenings which was the only time I could do the search since I was working during the day. One day during my apartment viewings, I had to walk a few blocks (1 block = 100m) from the train station to get to the apartment. As I walked out of the station, I felt the coldest breeze of my life, and mind you I am still getting used to the brutal winters at this point, and I thought I had the appropriate gear… boy was I wrong!
I continue to walk towards the apartment I was viewing only a few blocks away from the station. I was dressed in ankle boots, distressed jeans, a jersey, and a winter coat. Suddenly, I started feeling a pricking from my knees to my thighs, at first it felt like tiny needles pricking me, then it felt a bit warm/burning then numbness and then freezing again … now that I’m thinking about it, those were early signs of frostbite! *wow* Can you believe it?! *claps once*
The jeans had started cutting into my frozen skin! I had to stop my mission and quickly look for a store, first to find warmth then, to buy stockings or long johns or I wasn’t going to have legs by summer time! I mean it was crazy!
I would often ask myself, “what am I doing here, is this worth it? Do I suffer from a masochistic personality disorder?” I have since come to realize that where I come from has equipped me with the power of resilience. Growing up in tough conditions builds character and a thick skin, growing up in South Africa especially as a black female, let alone a black person is an extreme sport. Our post-apartheid struggles as a nation have enabled us to build resilience, hope, and gratitude in order to withstand the toughest and most challenging environments with ease. South African’s daily mantra “it could be worse” kept me going.
So, I stayed, found an apartment and lived to see yet another brutal winter in New York with all my limbs still intact. Of course not without compromising on space, lighting, noise, heat, you know, all the things that most people/places around the world deemed to be basic human needs, in New York City you pay for them. Nothing is free or easy in this city, but the encouraging thing is that we are all in this together, trying to make it under harsh conditions in the concrete jungle!
Everyone has their own interesting introduction to NYC, and you haven’t truly experienced NYC until you have a crazy story about this crazy city that we love so much!
Writer: Nompakamiso Hude