Ever since I can remember, moving to New York was a dream I held near and dear to my heart. Fear always held me back, but when I met the love of my life, I gained a new found courage to forge ahead. The transition, which was full of surprises and unexpected twists, was anything but smooth. As the 1 year anniversary or my Brooklyn existence is upon me, I have taken time to look back and see what went wrong. There are so many mistakes I have made that naming them would be too time consuming for even the most bored person. But along with the mistakes, there are many things I have done right. And even though a full 365+ days have passed, I can remember many things as if it just happened yesterday…
Thinking back, I was about 14 or 15 years old when I realized that my hometown of Michigan was too slow for me and that I should trade it in for a New York life. My family had been making annual trips to New York since I was about 4 years old, so I was really familiar with the town. We’d spend at least a week touring and shopping around the town. The glitz and glam of the city appealed to me more than anyone knew. Every time mention of the annual trip was made, my eyes would start to glow with excitement. So when I made my proclaim that I wanted to live in New York, it never really phased anyone. I guess that, plus the fact that I always “wanted to” something made people just passed it off as another thought of mine. That’s probably why there was a family-wide shock when I purchased my one-way ticket to Brooklyn in May 2004. Whether it was the fact that no one was paying attention to my life, or they simply didn’t care that made it that much more surprising, I’m not sure. But I do know what lead up to the big move. And it was more than just an aspiration to a dream.
I became extremely bored with my life and turned to the one thing that allowed me to “travel” and “explore” the world without having to spend the money: the Internet. I became so engrossed in on line communities that if you asked me where I live I was liable to tell you something that ended with a dot com! I eventually stumbled upon the perfect website for me. It was a site accessible from the web OR a cell phone browser. I became hooked. Somehow I ended meeting and clicking with a guy from Brooklyn, New York. He came from a very similar background and from the first time we spoke on the phone, I knew it was going to last. There was just one problem – he lived 700 miles away from me. I was living at home at the time, and getting to visit him was not easy. In fact, it took quite a few lies (that later came out) to my family to make this work. Looking back, I regret the lies, but it’s too late to change them; and that’s not the point of this article. The point is, the relationship we built up is what made me take that big train ride to Brooklyn.
Fast forwarding (so as to spare you boring details), July 5, 2004 I became a resident of Brooklyn, New York. I stayed with a friend of mine that lived 3 blocks from my boyfriend, which, in the beginning, seemed like a wonderful idea. However, a little over a month later, August 2004, when I found out I was pregnant, I began to see the downfalls of making certain decisions. The first trimester became a battle whether or not I was going to have an abortion, with my boyfriend heading the battle line marching toward Planned Parenthood. I, on the other hand, had strong convictions that would not allow me to kill the unborn child I was carrying, even though I did do to the clinic at one point. I was lost and miserable. Here I was, going into the second trimester with no job, no money, no insurance and sharing a queen sized bed with my friend. Something had to give.
I started looking for any job I could find. When that seemed to fail, I went and applied for Welfare. I got emergency food stamps and was enrolled in a job finding program. Less than 2 weeks into it, I found a position as a receptionist for a private owned dental office. It started out OK, but after a couple of weeks, I begin to see the dentist and her controlling husband as the shysters they were. Bullshit coupled with pregnancy hormones made it difficult for me to accept too much foolishness from them. December 20th, I had a fall and had to call off from work. That night the dentist’s husband called me and said they were terminating me because with me being pregnant they weren’t sure how much longer I could last and they needed more stability. I was torn apart. Just when things seemed to be working for me, they started to crumble again. I turned towards the temp agencies and found a “too good to be true” work at home assignment. It paid less than what I wanted, but it was a check and I knew I had to do what I needed to in order to survive.
My due date was April 19, 2005 and I made sure to tell the lady at the temp office about it. In March, I reminded her of that and, for the first time, I saw how stupid she was. She looked me in the face and was dead serious when she said, “So when exactly are you going to have the baby? I needed to know so I can tell the client and they can decided if they want a replacement or not.” I tried to explain to her (as if her 30+ self didn’t know that labor is a natural thing and can’t be confined to a definite date) that there was no way of telling. I could tell her when I went to the doctor and he told me my cervix was softening or I was beginning to dilate. But I could not give her, no could I ask the doctor for a specific date, especially since I was not being induced or having a scheduled c-section. I did tell her, “What I will do is let you know as soon as something happens. That’s the best I can do.”
March 31 I was in the emergency room with severe pains in my lower back. I had dilated to 3 1/2 cms. I was released and sent home. By the time I got home, at almost midnight, my doctor was calling me. He said he tried to catch me at the hospital but they had let me go. He told me to come in first thing in the morning and get checked out. When I got there at 10, he examined me and told me I was at 6 cms and to get to the hospital. He was admitting me to have the baby. I had my son Saturday, April 2 at 5:14 a.m. I stayed in the hospital until that Monday, but my son had to remain in NICU. First thing Tuesday morning, I alerted the temp agency. Wednesday morning I was told I was terminated because I “failed to give advanced notice of being admitted into the hospital.” I begin to think of New York as a cruel pimp screwing me in the ass with no lubrication and no kiss goodbye.
I can’t tell you how many time I have broken down and cried over the situations I have been in. I have been without money. No food. No rent for 3 months, and it seems like being behind on my rent is a constant with me now. At one point I regretted my move to New York. Now I realize that the move wasn’t the problem. It was the decisions I made that was the problems. And even though I’m still struggling and still crying at times, I’m surviving. I’ve matured and grown in ways not many 25 year olds can claim. I have a new found respect for my mom and all the moms in my generation and those prior to me. I now know what it means to be a mother. It means to do what you got to do in order to make a way for you and your child.
When I was younger and suffered from nightmares I was told to wiggle my toe to wake up and stop the horrible dream. Well I was living in a nightmare for a minute here in New York. But I’ve been wiggling my toe and my eyes are finally open. The nightmare is ending and the good dream – LIFE IN NEW YORK – has just begun. I’m a little more cautious, very selective and, above all, proud to have made it this far. I made it in New York. I guess that means I can make it anywhere.