Leaving New York City
The apartment was on the river in Queens - just one subway stop from Manhattan. I moved there my second year in New York, and eighteen months later, I broke the lease, sold my furniture, and moved my remaining things into storage.
I had chosen to leave the job I hated, which meant I could no longer afford the apartment. I wasn't sure what I wanted or where I would find it. All I knew was that I wanted to write, and I didn't want to spend one more day doing work I hated. So I left my apartment, and I left the city - uncertain whether I would return.
I decided to travel to Austin and Denver. I thought maybe I'd prefer life there. I barely had the money for airfare, let alone accommodations, but I was determined. As luck would have it, right around the time I decided to do this, one friend was placed on assignment in Austin and another moved to Denver. They were both generous enough to let me stay with them.
Experimenting with Nomadic Living
The moment I landed in Texas, I was tempted to stay, but I stuck to my plan, and afterward, I flew to Colorado.
Two months earlier - the day I left my job - I was offered another job in New York. I had insisted on keeping my plans and traveling, but now, having done that and facing minuscule savings, I decided to return. This time - I told myself - I'd choose a different neighborhood, a different way of life.
I decided I'd live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, walking distance from a yoga studio I knew and loved. I sat in the Denver airport. As I waited to board my return flight to New York, I read my Facebook news feed. A friend had posted about his recent apartment search, and buried in the comments, a stranger mentioned she was looking to sublet her apartment in Williamsburg for the month. I sent her a message, and the next day, I saw the place:
Just one block from the subway, it was a gorgeous two-bedroom, two-bath home with a large bay window and roof access to skyline views. She agreed to let me have the entire place for whatever price I could afford. One week later, I moved into my own private two-bedroom oasis in the heart of Williamsburg. I considered the sheer luck of the find a sign that I'd made the right choice to return to New York. Here the city was, welcoming me back with open arms in the form of a dramatically below-market sublet in the neighborhood of my choosing.
Of course, the sublet was only for one month, so as soon as I moved in, I started to search for something more permanent. I searched, and I searched, and I searched. I couldn't find anything in the area, and at the end of the month, I moved into a week-long AirBnB. This apartment was even closer to where I thought I wanted to be - just three blocks from the yoga studio. This meant that it was also right by an above-ground subway. I hated the sound of the train, and I found the energy in the surrounding blocks exhausting. Maybe I was actually exhausted by the home-hopping or the summer heat or the fact that that week, my Grandma died, but at the time, all I knew was that I didn't want to be there, and I couldn't afford to keep renting AirBnBs.
A friend was hosting a party, and I texted to let her know that I couldn't go because I was going to be homeless in a few days and freaking out and needed to pound the pavement for apartments. She promptly responded: Oh! I'm going to Italy! Want to sublet my two bedroom in Greenpoint?
Greenpoint. People had been throwing the name out there, but because it was two miles from the yoga studio and didn't have any train access into Manhattan, I resisted. But now, here I was, facing homelessness and being handed a below-market two-bedroom apartment all to myself - again. I very happily accepted, and three days later, I put my suitcase in the back of a cab and rode two miles north to Greenpoint.
That evening, I wandered the new neighborhood. Greenpoint was just a short walk across a bridge from my old neighborhood in Queens, and as I wandered, I remembered that this is where I'd spent most of my Brooklyn time before I broke my lease. I loved it and decided to stay - subway access be damned.
Finding A Home
That same night - the very day I moved to Greenpoint - I saw a Craigslist listing for a studio apartment just across the bridge from Queens. The listing didn't have any pictures and was priced below market. I figured it was probably a dark, cockroach infested home just big enough to fit a bed, but the price was right, and I was desperate, so I messaged the poster.
The next day I visited the apartment. When I arrived, I walked through a short iron gate and toward a three-story townhouse. I opened the door to the apartment and immediately knew this is my home:
Sunlight flooded the space through a wall of windows. The wide-planked knotty wood floors reminded me of pictures I'd ripped from design magazines as a kid, and the floors had been there for 110 years - just as long as the red brick fireplace and the tiled ceiling and crown molding - all of which had been impeccably restored. The kitchen and bath had both been renovated with high-quality stone and thoughtful details. There was a walk-in closet, and unlike most Brooklyn apartments, the radiator was hidden behind a beautiful custom cover. And the walls - the walls were painted the same purple-grey as my childhood bedroom. Curtain rods were installed, simply awaiting fabric, and a gorgeous white marble slab table was in the corner - a table I was told I'm welcome to use for as long as I live in the space - the table I turned into my desk and upon which I'm now writing this.
I felt a swirl of shock and joy. I'd been searching for an apartment for a month and a half to no avail. I hadn't seen a single space I liked and had largely resigned myself to the reality that I could no longer afford to live alone. I'd expanded my search to empty rooms in two and three bedroom apartments, but here it was - at the exact price I'd been repeating over and over again in my head - my home.
Half a block away, there was a yoga studio, and two blocks away, my favorite coffee shop from my old neighborhood had just opened a new location. Since moving here, I've learned that Greenpoint is a mecca for alternative wellness and artists in New York City - yoga studios and freelancers galore. And just three blocks from my apartment is the primary alternative healing center in NYC. It taught me about an entire industry I previously didn't know existed.
I soon grew to hate my new job just as much as my old one. This time, I chose to leave the job and the entire industry. Right when I made this decision, I received a call offering me an opportunity to continue doing what I was doing for twice as much money. I said no, and instead, I moved into the industry my neighborhood helped me understand and embrace.
All of this can be chalked up to coincidence and some very, very good luck, but I can't help but feel incredibly supported and blessed, like I was being drawn to this place right here, right now. And I don't think Fleeting Connections would exist if it wasn't for all of this.
I went looking for a different way of life, and I found it. Turns out it was only half a mile away, just across the bridge from where I started.