About a year and a half ago, when I was just moving into my second NY apartment, the city was slick, hot, and muggy and I detested it like an old boyfriend who took my favorite sweatshirt with him when he moved cross country. At the time, I didn’t know my Finnish roommate that I met on Craigslist (she is quite lovely). But I was content I found an apartment because the place was so filled with warm light, and quiet, and that’s all I wanted. My first apartment was dark and dreary and I could always hear a couple screaming. It made me sad that I was a distant, active voyeur to the crumbling of their relationship.
It’s funny to think about this now because NY all of a sudden feels way more permanent and whatnot. I have a solid job that pays the bills, a set routine I follow, and restaurants, bars that I’ve deemed to others as ‘my favorites.’ I know that instead of ordering black coffee, I actually prefer mine as au laits and an almond croissant is infinitely better than a pain au chocolat. But before I decided to give NY ‘a try,’ I told Chessher I was sick of the East Coast and wanted to move back to California, or just somewhere that was distinctly not New York.
‘Just go for a year,” she coaxed. 'And if you don’t like it, you can always leave.’
'I don’t know,’ I said to her. “It’s just not for me, I don’t think.” I groaned and complained about how the city made me feel inadequate and dirty and I was tired of fighting for all this attention that people expected to get from the city. This all happened while I spun in a chair in her office, where she had tiny bottles of Jose Cuervos lined up. (“Anytime you need one! Just take it,” she would remind me. Her Texan hospitality has always been one of her most loving traits, that, and she could make you feel like the only person in the room). That always made me smile, because she knew I would never take it, but the fact that she made herself, and her resources so available to me, is something I think about often.
Her office hours always felt like mini therapy sessions. Some days I would go in and tell her about something totally unrelated to the stories I filed. I would just jabber on and on until I was nearly late for my next class and before sprinting out, she would pop her head up from her stack of papers and say, ‘Oh, by the way, you got that C because you didn’t cite your sources properly.” I remember feeling irate at myself, and at her, because as loving Chessher was, she was a hard grader. And for the longest time, when I felt like I was putting in the extra time and effort toward those inconsequential magazine pieces, each would be returned to be with B’s and C’s and a bright-eyed stared—I knew it was her telepathically letting me know, “Now, you know that was shit. What happened?“
I don’t ever crave for those feelings because that was such a frenetic time when the future came batting at me with a capital F. But I still reminisce over those particular moments, because even though at the time I felt so old and wise, my world was still a little bit smaller, and I was a little bit more naive as to what’s to come.