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September 14, 2010

22 Sep

Let me illustrate my first day in New York by describing the end of the day.

I sat on my futon with my knees curled up to my chest. Travis had his arms around me. I choked back tears as I told him, “It wasn’t a bad day. It was a rough day.”

I slept horribly my first night in New York. I hadn’t shared a bed with anyone in six weeks, I was not used to the humidity, cars honking outside, our air conditioner clucking all night. Travis left for work at about seven or so. He kissed me goodbye and wished me a good first day in the city. I had decided the day before that I would spend my first day in New York just exploring, getting used to my neighborhood, before jumping right into the job search. Everybody I spoke to agreed that it would be for the best. Yet, I’m me. I’m a workaholic and type A extreme. As soon as Travis left, I sat up in bed, grabbed my computer and started searching.

I applied and browsed for an hour or so, when all of a sudden I got an e-mail wanting me to go to an interview that day. It was in midtown, so I figured at the very least I could go see Times Square and get my sightseeing in for the day. I quickly got ready and headed out. It took me a while to find the subway. Everybody walks really fast, and no one has the patience for you to stop walking and look at a street sign. The subways are great once you have them figured out, but at first they are SO confusing. A huge, massive maze with secret entrances and exits. I immediately felt disoriented. When I arrived in Times Square, I was overwhelmed with the desire to not look like a tourist. So I only quickly snapped this picture and tried to look quick and determined, like a real New Yorker. But I failed. How could I not gaze up at these flashing lights and monstrous buildings. It was like a moth. I was tripping over myself trying to walk to this interview.

I was super early to the interview (I had allayed extra time for myself in the event of getting lost), so I decided to grab lunch. Lunch in midtown is like feeding time at the zoo. I went to a burrito shop where people pushed and shoved to get to the front of the line. When I took two seconds to consider whether I wanted black or pinto beans, a herd of suits behind me groaned with agony. Plus, I couldn’t understand what any of the cashiers or food preparers were asking me, because they were talking faster than my brain could comprehend.

I headed over to the hotel where the interview was going to be. It was for a waitressing position. I went to the lobby and was directed to the 44th floor. On the elevator, I ran into the manager, Brett. When we got off the elevator, he showed me the space where the restaurant will be. Honestly, I didn’t notice that it was not put together at all. I was naturally staring at the most gorgeous view over the whole city. It was amazing to have been five minutes early in the heart of honking cars, pushing people, garbage smells, then all of a sudden in the silence of the sky looking down at it all happening before me. He showed me the space, then turned to me.
“So the job’s yours if you want it.”
“Uh, sure?” We shook hands, and he walked me to the elevator.
“So, I’ll see you 6am Friday morning?” I nod. “Do you have any waitressing experience?” I laugh at the inappropriate timing of this question. He had already hired me, right?
“Yes, I have plenty of waitressing experience.”

I left the hotel in shock. I had been in New York for less than 24 hours, and I had a job? I thought that was unheard of. I thought I was going to be unemployed for weeks. I was actually kind of disappointing. I was looking forward to a brief period of unemployment. I had done what everybody had warned me against, rushing into something. I meander my way home.

I try to take a nap, but the buzzer in our apartment keeps going off. I try to talk to whoever is buzzing up, but this person has a heavy, undistinguishable accent. I have no idea what they are saying. So I don’t buzz them in and continue my nap.

I wake up later and head out to find a grocery store to cook dinner. It takes me 20 minutes or so to find a crowded one where aisles have no rhyme or reason. I finally get what I need and head home to make dinner for my hard-working boyfriend. Our kitchen is…small. I couldn’t figure out how to turn the heat down on the burner and over-cooked everything, but it still turned out okay. Travis comes home and kisses me “hello.”

“So where are your two boxes?” he asks me.
“Huh?”
“The two big boxes you got today,” I am still looking at him in confusion. “Are you kidding, Chrissy? The neighbors saw them downstairs by the mailbox and mentioned it to me when I came home.”
Two big boxes? My parents had shipped two big boxes for me, full of every DVD and every book that I own. Those two boxes.

We sit down on the futon to eat dinner when someone knocks on our door. I hear Travis talking to someone, but I can’t hear what they say. He comes back and sits down.
“That was the neighbors. They seem to think they were stolen. Boxes get stolen a lot in this building, and they definitely saw them inside the building.”

This is when I start to break down. I think of all those signed copies. The gifts from friends. The 70+ DVDs, I have collected for the last 7 years or so. Gone like that. I think of that person buzzing my apartment. I’m an idiot. It was the mailman. I went about my business while someone pilfered some of my most treasured belongings.

I tell Travis to keep eating his dinner. I’ll be okay. His arm sweeps around my shoulder. I tell him I’m fine. He holds me tighter, and I start to cry. He tells me we’ll build back my collection. We’ll buy new ones. We’ll figure it out. He’ll help me buy new ones. But, it just isn’t the point. Some of those things are irreplaceable, and on top of it, I felt like my first day in New York was not at all what I expected. The city just kicked my ass.

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