Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And I thought my NYC story was sad...

A fellow temp worker, a 60-ish woman, was talking with someone else about being from New York. So I piped up with, "I lived there for 3 years! I looooooved it!" Then I mentioned that I came back to Austin because I couldn't find steady work and couldn't afford the rent up there, that I really missed it, etc. etc.

Well, HER story tops my Mini Tale of Woe, that's for sure...

She'd lived in NYC all her life. Born in the Bronx, moved to the East Village over 30 years ago. She and her 12-year-old daughter had lived in Stuy Town, a historic rent-controlled building that just about no one can get into any more. (When I worked in the Union Square area, I once spent a lunch hour walking to Stuy Town, since it had been in the news at the time after being sold to a major developer, and I wanted to check it out.)

About the same time I was having trouble finding work in NYC, she lost her longtime, relatively high-paying job (academic support staff). And then struggled along with temp work for a year or so... She ended up having to declare bankruptcy. And lost her prime apartment. And was going to end up on the street until a friend of hers in Austin said she and her daughter could come stay with her. She's been here for about 3 years. At one point had a full-time job at UT but was just laid off several months ago and is again temping. She now lives in a generic, cheap mega-complex way south. No little neighborhood shops and restaurants. No place to walk...

Her story puts my bitchin' and moanin' about my "loss" to shame. I was basically just an extended visitor to New York City before the economy forced me to leave. She, on the other hand, is a real New Yorker, with her whole life and roots there. She'd been in her historical, cheap Manhattan apartment for over 10 years... When I had to leave, I came back to a town that I'd lived in since the 1980s, to a neighborhood that I'd known for the past decade. My immediate family lives within 2 miles of me. I may not LOOOOOVE Austin, but I like it, and I know the place... She, on the other hand, was forced to leave everything she knew for a random city across the country that she had no connection to other than the one kind-hearted friend who offered a place to stay. My sense of "loss" of NYC was mainly aesthetic and psychological (it represented beauty and excitement and wonder to me); her loss was a much more real one.

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