See the rest of my 100 things plus the intro post here.
The interview process was long, but not as long as it might have been had I just been a stranger off the street. Lucky for me, I had an “in.” I was a soon-to-be graduate of the Head of School’s alma mater, where a very good friend of mine also taught. Unless I was a raving lunatic, how could I not get this job? Still, the interview process was long.
The job was in New York City and I was prepared to take my suburban self to Manhattan. I knew this one friend and it was exactly what I wanted to be doing: teaching kindergarten. I had just spent four years earning my degree in Elementary Education and I was offered the position of Assistant Kindergarten teacher in a prestigious private school on the Upper West Side.
Just before I moved, though, my friend at the school left her job due to some personal issues and so there I was: 22 years old, having never lived on my own before, in a brand new relationship (my first ever, in fact) moving to New York City — alone. I knew no one, least of all the three random roommates I had found through a roommate-matching service in a time before Craig’s list and Facebook and cell phones.
The day I moved in was hot. It would have been considered a hot day in Boston, but it was crazy, painfully hot in Manhattan, up on the un-air conditioned 5th-floor, after hauling everything I owned into a tiny railroad apartment with too few outlets. (I had a fan, but nowhere to plug it in.) My dad, I remember, who was helping me move, fell against the wall, nearly passing out.
In the room with a dusty windowsill looking out onto the other interior side of the building, where the crazy man who wore a bucket and shower cap on his head put batteries on the ledge to ward off alien invaders, I felt more alone than I ever had before. In this city. In this place. With these people. And this job. Streets I had never walked. Food I had never tasted. Stores I had never heard of.
I picked up the phone to call my girlfriend, but she didn’t answer, and it felt like the ultimate insult. As my eyes began to fill with tears, I drew in a deep breath and tried to pull it together. I headed down the narrow hall to the kitchen. Flipped on the light and rounded the corner to see a million cockroaches scurry to all the dark corners of the room.
My heart pounding, I flipped off the light and wrapped my body around the kitchen doorframe. And as the overhead light faded into orange and then dusky gunmetal gray, I slid my body to the floor, my legs drawn up against me, and I sobbed.