[If you prefer not to read my utterly selfish whinings then please, check your literacy at the door.]

It’s 10:23 PM, and I just ate a bunch of salty green beans from the only pot that we own.  My name is Eva, and I live in a 3rd floor walk-up in Harlem, New York City.

Four years ago, if you were to ask me, “How would you envision life in New York as a 20-something?”  I would have probably told you that being 26 years old in New York would entail glamour, sex, money, and flashing your legs in killer cocktail dresses, all while in the arm of a handsome, dark–probably Italian–man, who uses an accent on all the right words and smells like mint leaves.  He is an artist and  adjunct professor who flawlessly manages his finances.

Let me be here to set the record straight: it’s not.

Being 26 in New York is exciting but not in a “dream come true” sort of way.  It’s exciting when it’s your roommate’s turn to buy the toilet paper because the thought of pilfering another roll from a public restroom has gotten unappealing.  It’s exciting when your closest form of public transit doesn’t reek of poop.  And speaking of public transit, it’s always very exciting when you DON’T get kicked in the face by neon high-top Nikes after “ladies and gentlemen it’s SHOWTIME” rings ominously through your train car. (Didn’t they rule that tomfoolery illegal?  How are they still out there?)

And yes, there is a guy in your life, but he’s not the aromatic Italian.  His name is Ramón, and he is your fruit bodega guy and sometimes he gives you two bananas for the price of one.  You are not wearing a cocktail dress and Loubotins–you are wearing worn out “Madden Girl” boots–they get a hole in them even before the one year mark because you’re forced to wear them everywhere you go.

However, despite your lack of met expectations, you made the choice to move to this city, and you must stick to it.  You, against the will of your family, time and time again, have vowed to “make it work.”

Like an eager raccoon, you came to the city, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  You came hunting for success…excitement, fortune.  You fool!  The cars hit you again and again, and now you are a DEAD raccoon, and you are on the side of the gravel road.  An innocent child is kicking you down the way, for a mile or two, until he gets bored.  He leaves you, dead, bruised, and stranded.  And as your rodent spirit rises and looks down onto your listless, roadkill body you stubbornly say, “I would have done it all over again.”

I, sadly, am that raccoon.  That innocent child is the oblivious New York, which continues to beat me into the gravel even when I am already feeling “down”.  Laughing all the way, he is!  I am half-dead already–on an endless quest for happiness, which everyone tells me is always just around the corner.

But even dead raccoons do have a small-but-shiny* glimmer of hope, or at least in this terrible metaphor, they do.  Because for some reason, despite failed auditions (or even worse–auditions of which I am too fearful to even submit), despite terrible waitressing jobs, despite run-ins with aloof tourists, despite poop subways and my own grumpy disposition on days like these, I know that this city offers something that I can not find anywhere else.

My heart will always belong in Iowa, but the fire I am lighting is in NewYork.  I just hope I don’t burn to death in it.

*yay! shiny things!

Raccoon,_female_after_washing_up

Photo credit: “Raccoon, female after washing up” by D. Gordon E. Robertson – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Raccoon,_female_after_washing_up.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Raccoon,_female_after_washing_up.jpg

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