While living in a fairly large studio, I decided to help out a new friend by letting him stay with me for a few months.

I’d just met him at a party, where I learned that he was a struggling actor who’d just graduated. New York was hard on him, especially financially, and he told me he’d have to move home.

“How much money you have saved up?” I asked. He had enough to pay for half of my rent and utilities for three months. “Come stay with me. The rent will be cheap, and you’ll have some extra time to find a job and new apartment.” He loved the idea.

I think you all know where this story is going. I should have, but I wanted to think the best of him. I wanted to think he was like me, hardworking and ready to achieve his New York dream.

But this kid wasn’t like me at all. He was reclusive, and upon arriving to my apartment put in his headphones and watched Netflix all day. He ordered Domino’s pizza every night, and sometimes fell asleep with the box still next to him. He didn’t look for jobs, and when the pizza became too expensive, he got a job selling Broadway tickets on the street in Times Square. Which, of course, he hated, and quit after one shift.

By the end of the month, all of his money was used up. A mutual friend of ours, who hosted the party we met at, sent me the link to a GoFundMe he posted on his Facebook wall and blocked me from, called “Get me the
fuck out of this hell hole.”

“New York has been a disaster. My so-called friend is charging me more than half of rent and utilities (not true), his cat has eaten no less than five phone chargers (probably true, but he never told me, and I absolutely would have replaced it), and I cannot stand his revolving door of sexual partners. (In the month he was there, I had one friend over for a movie at 6 p.m. – no sex.) I’m moving back home, I just need to make enough money to get a plane ticket.”

As I read the link, he was right there, on his bed, watching Netflix. I went to his bed and made him take his earphones out. “What’s going on?” I asked gently.

He burst into tears. “New York is awful and hard and I just want to go home.

New York was a fantasy, not a reality, and I hate it here.” While he continued to cry to me, he typed something on his computer; then, he said, “I’m sorry I’ve been awful to you. I just bought a Greyhound ticket. I’ll be gone tomorrow.”

And he was, before I even woke up, and I became more of a hardened, untrusting, stereotypical New Yorker for the experience.