On My Own
Now that I had played the lead in a play in Seattle, I felt fully prepared to take on the New York stage. I didn’t know anyone there, I had very little money, I had no work prospects and didn’t have a place to stay. It seemed the logical choice. I loved New York and had wanted to live in Manhattan on my own since the debacle of my time there completely dependent on another person. This time I would have me and only me to depend on and I was ready for that. I needed to get away from everything safe and secure and be on my own. I felt that I absolutely needed to do that. I could stay at the YMCA when I first arrived, get a job, and, after I found an apartment, my mother could send Squeeky to me. After I came to the conclusion that I was going to move to New York, I took a drive north, then west through the Tulalip Indian reservation to the rocky beach where I liked to sit and meditate. I asked God for direction and guidance and didn’t feel a moment’s apprehension or fear. I drove to Seattle and bought a few books on getting settled in Manhattan and was ready to make the move.
By this time, nothing I did surprised my mother. She didn’t approve of my decision but soon realized I was determined to go. She promised she would take good care of Squeeky and send him to me as soon as I found a place to live. So I packed my clothes and belongings into several big suitcases and flew to New York. I landed, hauled all my suitcases out to a taxi, and we drove into Manhattan. The first sight of the city was an even headier experience than when I came to be with Steve. I was excited at the prospect that I was actually going to live here by myself and enjoy the city without anyone telling me what to do, how to do it, how to dress, or control me or complain about me or make my life miserable in any way. As soon as Squeeky was with me, every time I came home, all I would get would be love, acceptance and understanding, and comfort if I needed it. What a concept! I had been waiting for that since I lived alone in my apartment on Moorpark.
The cab drove through the streets of New York and I drank in all the sights as if I had never seen them before. I felt I couldn’t get enough of every single thing that added to the atmosphere of energy and life that emanated from every person, car, building, street and sidewalk we drove by. We pulled up in front of the YMCA on the Upper West Side, I paid the driver, and he unceremoniously dumped all my suitcases on the sidewalk. He sped off and I lugged the suitcases one by one up the stairs, into the lobby and over to the desk. I was told I would have to put them in a store-room for now until they were ready to have me check in, so I did that and went outside and walked around, getting reacquainted with my old neighborhood, had a bite to eat, and went back to the Y.
My room turned out to be the size of my mother’s bathroom with a view of a brick wall. The closet couldn’t hold much of my clothes so I only hung up what I figured I would need right away. I had saved enough money for a few days at the Y and for first and last and deposit on an apartment, so first order of business would be to try to find a place to live, then go to Kelly Services and get a temp job.
The payphone was on the far end of the floor several hallways away where the showers were. The next morning, I headed in that direction and was relieved to see a Yellow Pages phone book was hanging by the phone. I planned on calling real estate agents to find an apartment the next morning. But first I had to call my mother and let her know I was okay and check up on Squeeky. My mother sounded slightly hysterical and I assured her no one had mugged me so far and I didn’t expect that to happen any time soon. I went back to my room exhausted, a little frightened and excited about finding a new home and sending for my Squeeky. I lay down on the bed and prayed for guidance and blessings on my new adventure.
The next morning, I went out for breakfast at a fast food place then headed back to the Y and started making calls. “Hello, this is Britt and I’m new to the city. I’m looking for a rental on the Upper East Side or Westside for around $800 a month....hello?” Try again. “Hi, my name is Britt and I just arrived in New York and I’m trying to find an apartment for about $900 a month. Can you help me?...no, I’m not from any kind of farm. I’m from Seattle...hello?” After about ten hang-ups I started to worry that the book I had read about New York rentals might have been a bit out of date. But I persisted; “Hello, I’m sorry to bother you but I don’t suppose you have any rentals for $900 a month or under? If not, I can call someone else.”
The man at the other end of the line hesitated, then,
“You sound like you’re new in town.”
“Yes, I just flew in yesterday.”
“You sound awfully young.”
“No, not really. It’s just my voice I guess.”
“I don’t know if I have anything for you but meet me at Broadway and 51st in an hour. Do you know where that is?”
“See you then.”
I hung up relieved, but with my mother’s warnings ringing in my head; what if he was some kind of pervert planning on getting me alone in an apartment and doing God knows what? What if he does something really bad to me? He knows I’m alone. Maybe I shouldn’t go. Maybe if I do I’ll never be heard from again. I shook off the paranoia and clung to the hope that maybe this man would actually help me. I hurried out of the Y and headed for Broadway.
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