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Saturday, November 7, 2009
the perfect fit
As I was about to go to sleep tonight I was reminded of events a little over a year ago when I was looking for a place to live in New York. Finding the perfect place is everything in New York City. It decides where you will shop, eat, hang out and how long your commute will be to and from work, school and friends. I wanted to find somewhere that would be everything I needed all in one place.
At the time I was looking, I was living in Prospect Park, Brooklyn and despite being mugged there I figured Brooklyn, the better part of it, would be perfect for my new start in the city. It was mostly quiet compared to Manhattan, it was more family oriented and lined with small shops, museums, library, gardens and a zoo, among other delights. There were plenty of places to go shopping, hang out and young singles to mingle with, but was it enough?
I looked high and low in different communities of Brooklyn to find the place for me. After I tried several options on Craigslist I almost gave up. Was I acting like a privileged white kid away from home for the first time or was I truly just searching for a place to call home like everyone else? Finally, as time was running out, I found this ideal situation - yes, even on Craigslist.
I found a gay couple who own a beautiful 18th or 19th century four-story row home. The house was a two minute walk from all the major subway lines and a major shopping center that included restaurants, Target, Old Navy and grocery stores. The couple had owned the home for 30 years and seem like a wonderful pair of older men with no hidden agenda. The home was refurbished to it's original style and decked out with antique furniture, decoration and my personal favorite, pianos, yes plural. It seemed too surreal - I mean come on, three tuned pianos in one home??? So what's the catch? There seemed to be none - it was perfect.
The deal was that I would get the entire fourth floor equipped with my own bathroom and large furnished bedroom with access to the entire house that included laundry facilities, free utilities, state of the art kitchen and cable TV and internet for $700/ month!!! I was waiting for something to snap and pop the dream bubble.
Well, they had a few offers, but seemed to like me, especially because I play the piano. I looked at another apartment in Manhattan since that's where I'd be going to school and I was likely to be around more YSAs than in Brooklyn. The rent at the Manhattan apartment was about $100 more with considerable less amenities, not to mention I would have three strange roommates. I didn't want to give this opportunity to live in Manhattan up though, it was one block from Central Park and in between two subway lines - it wasn't so bad.
The Bishopric of the ward for that boundary was putting together the roommates and getting a good deal for the apartment that would be fully renovated. Before I signed on to live there I had told the counselor that I was HIV positive, ex-communicated and gay because I didn't want to be set up with some crazy, ignorant roommates. This whole dramatic thing came out of me be open about my status that is neither here or there now, but for the purpose of the story it made me think - gee, Brooklyn is probably a better choice.
Then the day came when I had to make a choice. Given the drama that had risen from the Manhattan choice I really, really didn't want to move there and I was way more comfortable staying in Brooklyn. In Brooklyn, I felt like I could be myself and not have to answer to anyone. It seemed like living in the other apartment there would be some problems. As I was saying, I had to make a choice and it was so hard. I was about to tell Manhattan to forget it and a voice as clear as ever said, NO, move to Manhattan. I was so confused. I would have had everything I could dream of at a lower price, why must I go to Manhattan. The voice didn't answer.
So, with tears welling up in my eyes and my heart pounding I picked up the phone and called the Brooklyn guys and said I was no longer interested in the apartment and hung up. I fell down in my bed and cried - for some reason it really hurt me that I couldn't have this dream of mine. I raised my voice to God and said, I don't know why you've asked me to do this, but this is my small sacrifice upon your altar, please accept it. I will never forget how I felt in that moment. I felt at peace, I felt comforted, I felt extremely loved. Most of all I felt the sacrifice was accepted and knew blessings would come my way in Manhattan.
A year has passed and it has not been an easy road. We've had several problems in the apartment: neighbors, noise, graffiti, drug use, weird smells to name a few. Then there's the whole adjusting to new people I don't know and their unacceptable habits. Take all of that away and I was still left with financial, physical, spiritual and emotional problems of my own. Somehow, some way, I have been able to overcome all the obstacles mostly unscathed. I still don't like some of my roommates and where I live isn't a dream come true - but compared to what, Brooklyn? I don't think Brooklyn could have helped me overcome these things - I would have had less friends and less access to what I really need. My place is not a dream but it's just right. I've met some great people in my ward, my Bishopric is understanding and helpful, I'm closer to more things than I know and even my rent has gone down to $700.
I guess we all do the could of, would of , should of game because frankly it's fun to think about what might have been. In this case, I am certain that had I not listened to that voice; had I not placed my small sacrifice upon the Lord's altar - the protection and the blessings may not have come. I may not have made the close friends I have now that have helped push me forward in ways I could not have done alone.
The trials and tribulations never cease, but perspectives change. This last year in New York; all of the adventures I've journeyed upon and mishaps I've endured have been the greatest gift and guiding lesson for the future. I've learned a lot about myself; who I am, how I treat myself, how I treat others, how I treat God and how I view the world. Times ain't easy but I sure am glad that when I wake up tomorrow that I'm waking up overlooking Central Park in a city that's always changing just like me- seems like a perfect fit.
You have been caught Jey Walking!