Escape To NYC: How I Finally Left Chicago To Chase My Dreams

EscapeToNYCpicI’ve been meaning to post this for over a month. It took me nearly 4 months to write. But it’s finally finished. 

I finally did it.

I moved to New York City. It seems like it happened really fast but I had been preparing to move to NYC for 7 years. I wanted to move right after college but it didn’t quite work out that way. I spent 7 long years in Chicago, working and living in different apartments across the southside.

I was able to get a few writing positions but nothing I was in love with. After working for a company for close to 4 years, I was unceremoniously dumped (read:fired) right before Christmas. While it was a temporary setback, it made something very clear to me: 2014 would be the year I moved to New York. I didn’t know how it was going to happen but I knew it would happen.

I began working on my exit Chicago strategy. I was soon able to get another job a week after I lost my old one. I was also working part-time at Macy’s so I had 2 streams of income. The job I landed was absolutely nothing I wanted to do but it paid well. I was at that job a good 2 months when I realized that I hated it. I read the reviews of the company after I was hired on backdoor & they were horrible. But they were all true. People were telling stories of the great pay but shitty insurance and the company working people to death. I could definitely relate; I worked until nearly 8 p.m. many times.

I continuously applied to gigs in NYC.

I finally started getting some bites on my resume in June. I had an interview in Jersey City. It wasn’t in the city but it was a train ride away. Frankly, I didn’t want the position but I wanted New York. I had to do a presentation for the interview and it was horrible. I had booked a 6 a.m. flight for the 1 p.m. interview. Looking back, I had to look horrible. I was tired and had no clue what I was talking about. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. I keep on trucking.

I had an interview in NYC every month from June – October. Luckily with my multiple streams of income, credit card and airline points, I was able to constantly travel back and forth between cities. But after my 4th interview, I had gotten weary and my savings had gotten low.

I was also completely fed up with my day job and put in my 2 weeks notice. That place was wearing on my spirit in a way that even the money couldn’t fix. My last day was August 8th, the day before Michael Brown was murdered.

I wasn’t worried; I was relieved. I don’t believe in doing something you hate for any reason. For money, for kids. For anything. There’s nothing you can pay me to be miserable. For the next few weeks, I applied to over 150 jobs everywhere from Chicago to New York to places I knew I would never live like Minneapolis and Memphis. I have an excel document I used to keep track of all the positions. I’m still getting emails months later like “Unfortunately, you don’t meet our qualifications, etc.” rejection emails.

I applied to everything: full-time positions, part-time gigs, internships, fellowships, temp positions, EVERYTHING. I finally got the call that I had gotten a writing position. Before I got the call, I had almost given up. I had made it up in my mind that my 5th interview was going to be the last for a while. Flying back and forth without anyone knowing was exhausting. No one knew of my plans. I believe in moving in silence. Only my homegirl, Omowale (who’s from Brooklyn) knew about my secret trips.

When I got the call that I got the gig, I had a mixture of emotions. I was happy, nervous, excited and scared all at the same time.  I even second-guessed myself like “Am I really moving to a new city where I don’t know anyone?”

Hell Yeah! I ain’t no punk. I’m from Chicago. Ain’t shit I can’t handle.

My family and friends were shocked. My dad was cool but my mom on the other hand was not with it. She sent me a text (she never texts) that said “Please don’t go.” She was very upset.

So I packed up as much as I could and my homegirl Iman came to the city to help me with the daunting task of finding a place to live. After an entire day of searching, we couldn’t come up with anything. I turned to spareroom.com and met a nice Black couple that owned a brownstone in Bed-Stuy, my preferred neighborhood. It was expensive but it was available. Rooms in gentrified Bed-Stuy are now running at $1200/month. Ridiculous.

The transition was difficult. I had been living alone for almost 5 years. To go from having my own 1 bedroom apartment to living in a tiny room with a small closet was humbling. I also realized I wouldn’t be able to afford to stay at the brownstone for very long. I started the search for my next apartment 3 weeks after I landed in NYC. I found a more affordable place in Harlem with a girl who was looking for a roommate. I moved to Harlem a month later.

The first 2 weeks were difficult. The shower didn’t work properly and the apartment wasn’t adequately heated. But I’m glad to say it’s finally coming together.

Getting used to the city has been a challenge. The old adage that New Yorker are rude rings true every time. It’s not that they are rude with their words; they are physically rude. They’ll push you, bump you and don’t even think about a man letting you walk into a door first. I’ve rarely seen it happen. The buses in Harlem are packed as shit all the time.

But I’m adapting well. I’ve already made more strides in my career in the last several months than I had in all those years in Chicago. I’ve been able to meet writers that I’ve admire, go to events that would never happen in Chicago and just completely started over.

Moving to NYC was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Now that I’m here, I’ve been trying to recruit my friends to move here. Most of them are like hell no but I bet I can get at least one of them here in due time.

I’m happy to be here. I’m broke as hell but happy to be where I’m at. I can see myself going far here, if the city doesn’t break me first…

One thought on “Escape To NYC: How I Finally Left Chicago To Chase My Dreams

  1. Sounds like how I moved lmao! Loved this post, lady!

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