Just ’cause ‘why not?’, I’d like to commence my ‘roommate drama’ account with a few notes about my bigot roommate who once compared women to pieces of property. And according to him, the landlord is a “stupid Chinese lady.” All strippers, who happen to be not even that pretty are just single mothers trying to support their kids-have pity on those poor souls, really. People from the projects are lazy. Contort your face into an ugly grimace to demonstrate your disgust at their sloth. Oh you’re an actress? Hahaha, you’re probably conned into doing porn flicks and you don’t even know. Do you, by the way, know what it takes to make it, as anything, in New York, or anywhere, in life? I’m A Man, so let me explain.
I guess if you’re a privileged male from an affluent background, this appalling display of every -ism would make sense to some but bud, you ain’t in wherever you originated from, so don’t shit in my walkway. The issue with this bigotry is that it paves your life well to a tread of wonder and awe as to why you are lonely, why all your roommates move out on you, why no woman would fuck you even if you were to pay her outrageous sums hourly, relegating you to employ force, coercion or fraud to get what you want or to which you think you may be entitled. One time, I found what I thought was a pool of viscuous fluid on my bed which looked like shampoo or very much like something else that I’m hoping it wasn’t. I left my door unlocked and open as I jumped in the shower in a rush for work. This idiot was stumbling around the apartment drunk and happy, looking lasciviously at any woman roommate in the apartment who is even remotely doable as she docked his passes. In a metropolis as big as NYC, there are so many people with a sense of decency and humanity-you know, the way ppl ought to be to one another-with whom to share ones space with, such that remaining in a situation with negative energy no longer makes sense.
As the last straw, my landlord decided to install a conspicuously-placed camera in the common kitchen. A bit odd that this came to fruition as I’m on the verge of figuring out how to file a lawsuit against an employer who allowed for illegal filming of me in situations where I have reasonable expectation of privacy. As it turns out, one of the new roommates among the revolving door of roommates I’ve seen come and go at my current place over the last six months, has been bringing her boyfriend over to stay, and they’ve been smoking weed together in their room. The landlord does not allow this. Weed and boyfriends (sometimes more than one, sometimes all at ones, lol) are totally en vogue in LA (all my la roommates partook, sometimes with one another), so I could care less. Yet, as a rather reasonable and sensible individual, I freak out like a cat forced into a bathtub when I have a camera forced into my face. In this case, this was in the common space of the kitchen.
Two days after this unpleasant surprise came to be, I sent the landlord an unpleasant text at 4:30 in the morning, to the effect of: Blah blah blah bleep, Also, that one guy roommate, whose name I can’t or rather, don’t care to learn to pronounce, is a bigot and a potential pervert. Also, I don’t know how many degrees it is outside but I know that it’s second week of January, and I think the heat is broken, and I also think the hot water is off, which is really annoying. In sum, I’m very very mad. And moving out. She says ok, but even if I’m moving out, she wants me to be warm, so she’ll bring me a space heater until then.
Since the camera installation, I have not seen the new girl’s boyfriend. I no longer talk to the racist roommate. I do hear him retching in the bathroom some mornings. Maybe someone poisoned his Chinese takeout leftovers. Maybe he’s hung over from trying to quench his misery boozing alone in his room the night before. Who cares. I’m over everybody. It’s just me, myself, and I. In my room. Alone. Unless I have things to do, like go work so I can pay my rent this month. Yay.
Initially, my goal was to spend six months at this place. It’s a very convenient commute to wherever I need to go for work. It’s a rather less convenient commute whenever I need to go to The Theater District. It’s convenient to work from home. The downside is that, with all the multitude of projects in every direction, substance abuse treatment centers and homeless shelters, sometimes there is a little drama in the neighborhood. As a matter of fact, it’s listed as one of the hotbeds for assault, which is why I wanted to springboard my life here in NYC, then gtfo.
Once I’m out, at the very least, I can look back and say, when I landed in NYC, I landed on one of the city’s most dangerous blocks. Drugs deals in the open, running out of a local mom-and-pop delis or along the strip of sidewalk I walk on my way to work at my fancy Upper East Side joint. Through the summer months, the big police van sits at eye’s view, keeping a lookout, but apparently not looking keenly enough to see what I see. I’m just that bad-ass.
Sometimes there is an unwelcome lullaby at your doorstep. It’s a bit inconvenient when your call time is at 9am, or when work requires that you commute an hour and a half away, starting early in the morning. But when I’m working until 4:30 in the morning at my least favorite job, come home even later, and lay asleep as everyone is rousing to go to work, I miss the man with the boom box. That’s the ‘in-style’ thing in the not-yet gentrified parts of Harlem and the Bronx, it seems, as though the people with boom boxes never heard of headphones. Curious.
Shout-outs at my doorsteps. One of my roommates, a girl who managed to stay a mere two months at the apartment, and I: We run out and ask the cops, shyly, “What happened?” Half our block is encased with yellow and black tape. They look at me, as if to say, you don’t belong here, but instead say, “Someone got robbed.” Bullshit. I hear gossip through the local stores, and other roommate, later on, that two guys had an argument. The young guy of the two turned around and shot the much older man who derided him. How curious this all is!
See, life is a never-ending progress. Making a move out is inconvenient as ever, even with my nyc life started and all at what now approaches the seven month mark. Besides, I’ve grown fond of the neighborhood: It’s humility and grit, it’s dearth and ghostliness late at night and into the early mornings, as I stumbled out of the subway after a commute working at a much more affluent part of town adjacent to my neighborhood.
The buildings are not beautiful. Some are near dilapidated, charred from fires long extinguished into darkness. some windows hosting sheets as window blinds. Many rows of houses have boarded-up their windows even with perfectly functional, mom-and-pop storefronts down below. The apathetic neglect simply awaits the need to gut and renovate the buildings only after the neighborhood gentrifies enough for the buildings to be rent-destabilized, with landlords taking advantage of the upping-and-coming of a neighborhood as to charge as much as they want-otherwise, not bother at all. As of now, however ironic, there is beauty in what’s ugly and I see it here.
When I find myself strolling sandwiched in between rows and rows of projects, stretching into the sky and into the horizon, I feel a pang of sadness. I didn’t expect life in nyc to be like this, I guess. I guess I expected it to be more shiny, more pristine, and a bit less bleak. Maybe that’s what people mean when they say New York City is ‘real’, whatever that even means. Maybe it means what I’ve just described.
Maybe one day, I can afford an apartment with a view of the city and a doorman. Maybe I’ll only descend further down into the abyss of poverty. Maybe I’ll run away to somewhere else, just like I ran away to here. Life is about running for some people, myself included; for others, it is about staying stagnant. Just last week, someone told me they can see me back in LA. I think you’ll be back there soon, they said. Why? I didn’t ask. I can’t make up my mind between the two foci of my life.
Still, I’m thankful to be here.