By: Gabriela Yareliz
I was standing on the street waiting. I was waiting for the real estate agents who were supposed to meet me at that particular apartment. It was the day right after the traumatic two-day bar exam marathon.
As I waited on the hot, sunny sidewalk, I observed the rundown but bursting at the seems liquor store next to me. There was an African hair braiding place, a fortune teller nook, and two women chattering in the midday sun who were sitting in two aluminum chairs strategically placed on the sidewalk near an awning. A metal fence was dancing insecurely in front of the place, and I could hear a mixture of the remodelers’ music, both Indian and Latin music mixing outside their respective windows.
I waited impatiently. When the agents arrived, they proved to be rude. They seemed to find the fact that I graduated from a Jewish institution disconcerting (they were Jewish themselves). Even more disconcerting was the fact that I know how to sue people.
This is how my days went. I met countless agents. People wonder how to get that summer “glow.” Try walking an entire NYC borough on foot in the heat of the summer. That will give you the summer glow. I am two shades darker, and my shoulders and feet are about four shades darker. I would walk, feeling the sun burning my shoulders and marking the line of where my book bag straps dug into my skin.
I collected many agents cards, and when I would get to the place where I was staying, I would sit and browse about five websites worth of listings. I would email and text back and forth with agents. I was surprised at how many agents I had to practically stalk. They weren’t the hustlers I thought them out to be.
I would always get “home” exhausted. I was also worried. The “peak” renting season had passed, and there were less and less new places popping up on the listings. I would walk and jot down numbers and places I passed that said, “Apartment for rent.” One of the ones I followed up on was a $3,500 studio. Rents aren’t cheap in NYC.
When you are looking for a place to live, you have to balance out the price (make sure you can live and eat), make sure it’s a neighborhood where they won’t shoot you dead the day after you sign the lease, and make sure it’s close to the trains and you have easy transport to your school or job (because winter will surely come, and with a vengeance).
I walked for days. Each day, I was darker, more exhausted and more confused as to what I should do or where I should go.
I walked through neighborhoods that looked like fresh crime scenes. I walked through streets full of men yelling the most absurd and dirty things at me. And soon enough, I was narrowing my already narrow options to certain neighborhoods.
One day came, and I told my mom I was going to put a deadline on the apartment hunting. This could seriously go on forever, or I would be stuck with one of the expensive studios in the crime scene neighborhoods. And I am not kidding, many evenings I would see the news or read the crime reports, and people were literally shot on the streets I had walked hours prior.
I decided I would end my apartment showings on a Monday, pray all of Tuesday and make a move on Wednesday. I was banking on the fact that I was prayerfully doing this. If it was for me, it would be there. “Lo che succede succede,” as the Italians say.
That Monday, I went to a showing of a studio in a ritzy neighborhood. The streets were a dream. Women with strollers everywhere. I saw the studio, and it was what one would call a mini-studio. It didn’t even have a full kitchen or full fridge. I winced when I saw the fridge. I cook, and I knew full well nothing would fit. But I loved the neighborhood, and it was safe.
Then, I visited an apartment that was the lower level of a house. I loved the space, but it was far from the train, and I would have to take two trains to work. I was frazzled. I kept bouncing between them both. Mentally, I knew I preferred the mini-studio even though someone on one side could accidentally spatter saliva while talking by the entrance and it would have no problem reaching the other wall; it was that small.
I prayed and talked it over with my mother ad nauseum. I decided I would spend my day in serious prayer and then make my move.
After much prayer and weighing, I called up the mini-studio agent, and I immediately heard on the line, “I am sorry, it’s unavailable. We just got an application for it this morning.”
I swallowed hard. What was I going to do? I hung up and sat at the table numbly. I got a call from an agent whose number I did not recognize.
“Hi, listen, I got this great place I want you to see. You talked to Evita, right?” The agent sort of yelled into the phone.
I was confused. I had never spoken to a woman named Evita or Eva. I shuffled through my agent business cards. Nothing.
“No,” I said. The agent mumbled something confused on the other side.
“Listen, are you looking for an apartment?” He asked.
I was. I had nothing. I answered affirmatively. He said he was going to send me some photos, and he hung up.
He texted me some incredible photos of a spacious and sunny place. The price was a bargain. I asked him if he was available for a showing, and he told me to come by.
I went. He picked me up in his car as I was making my way toward the place from the train station. I was nervous with my little purple notebook in my hands.
“Is that your little notebook, with all your little questions?” He asked me in a mocking but funny tone.
This guy thinks I am a total nerd, I thought. The apartment was lovely, just like in the photos. I asked my list of questions and skeptically tested outlets with my cell phone charger. The agent observed me as if I was a complete freak.
“How old are these appliances?” I asked.
“Baby, you aren’t buying the apartment. If it breaks just tell management, and they will fix it or switch it out,” he said with an amused look on his face.
That was it. It was all I had prayed for. It was better than anything I had seen, (it had a full kitchen and everything). It was close to the train and the neighborhood was great and safe.
The agent fought managment for me on speaker phone when it tried to raise the price before I submitted the application, and the fact that I know how to sue for a living didn’t scare him one bit (which shows he isn’t sketchy like many others were). My experience was surreal. I finally met Evita, and we verified that I had never spoken to her.
The way all this came together remains another mystery in my life. It all came about when I had reached my breaking point. I didn’t know what to do except pray and complain to my mother in detail of the horrors I had seen throughout my long days. It was an insane journey. Thank God I wasn’t alone because my family and God were with me every step of the way.
He is there, every step. He is a God who specializes in the impossible. His ways are mysterious but sure. God can truly make something out of nothing. And He is willing to have us wait and realize that without Him, we can do nothing.
My life is all but simple. It has had its complex twists and turns. I will say that something is simple. I wouldn’t be where I am with all that I have without God. I am so grateful He works with me, through and through.
I am just a simple young woman, trying to live a life that pleases and honors God because all He has ever done for me is provide and show me His merciful love. His love always comes in to save the day.
I have my meltdown moments. When the apartment I wanted was unavailable, that was one of them. Yet still, I knew His hand was in control. I was and am in His hands, and there is no better place to be.