She couldn’t do it. No matter how hard she tried, it wasn’t going to work. The snowdrift was too high for her feeble feet. She pushed harder, but the harder she pushed, the steeper the incline became. Dirty, dark slush seeped into her stockings, and her shopping bags, hanging loosely from the handles of her walker, began to slip.
“Come on, Ida. You can do this,” she muttered. She encouraged herself a little louder. “You’re not dead yet! Just a few more steps forward!”
Alas, the bright green, synthetic felt covering her walker’s wheels was too soggy to get past the storm drain’s grating.
“Sheeeyit,” she muttered.
The flashing walk sign delivered a ten second warning. She glanced to her right. Several rows of glowing headlights glared at her, waiting impatiently for their chance to accelerate forward. At rush hour, there would be no mercy.
After all, this is New York.
“Hey, lady, lemme help you,” A rough yet kind, deep voice soothed her left ear. One, three, four, then six strong hands were gently placed upon her, lifting her out of the gutter, past the dirty snow and safely onto the sidewalk.
It was swift; effortless. Breathless, she looked up to see who had helped her. Three fresh-faced, teenage boys smiled at her.
“Are you all right?” the boy with the deep voice asked.
The light turned green and the rows of headlights sped past her. One bright, yellow taxicab tore near the storm drain, sending a seemingly vengeful spray of slush up onto the pavement. It narrowly missed hitting all of them.
“Yes…yes, thank you,” she replied, a little shaken. “Thank you, boys.”
“You’re welcome,” another boy squawked. “Be careful!”
And, almost as quickly as they had appeared, they were gone.
Today marks my one-year anniversary of living in New York.
I am sitting on the blue velvety couch in my roommates’ cozy apartment, surrounded by boxes, and my one and a half suitcases. Two months ago, the three of us applied for a bigger apartment and have been waiting, ever since, for the final word of approval.
The process has been so difficult it borders on comical. The details are exhausting. Let’s just say they involve an eviction notice; politics; red tape; 700+ pages of paperwork; begging over social media for a wealthy guarantor; illegally squatting in the current apartment; losing $850.00 to a shady, Florida-based moving company; an expensive, last-minute, one-way plane ticket; missing the flight for a mandatory, in-person “income verification interview”; my roommate getting punched in the face; a sea of tears, a gallon of whiskey and almost giving up hope.
It’s just been too much.
On top of it all, I just pressed the pause button on a brand new relationship with a wonderful man whom I fiercely and dearly love. Our relationship started off long distance, and a great job opportunity extended that distance. I am confused. I am scared. I am heartbroken.
Oddly enough, this season of limbo has been the most trying yet. Sure, I have survived divorce. I have thrived in the aftermath. I am finally living in the city of my dreams, but it hasn’t looked like I wanted it to. At all.
Today, we still have no answer. I had hoped God would wink at me on my official anniversary. In my Disney-esque spiritual fantasy, we would have signed the lease today. At the same time, I know we are going to move into this apartment. The wait will be worth it for many reasons: we will live in Manhattan, not Brooklyn or Queens. We will live a block from Central Park. Best of all, my share of the rent will be a mere $14.00 more than what I paid for my first apartment — when I got married — fourteen years ago.
I will not just survive New York City; I will thrive here.
I’m quietly celebrating my anniversary this evening. Much like the scene I observed on the corner of 75th and Broadway last night, I cannot push forward any more. I’m stuck in limbo, but I know there will be swift, strong hands to help me. I know there is always a soothing voice in my ear, even from the least expected source. I know I’m not alone.
And that’s enough for now.