I did something last week that I've never done in my nearly seven years of living in New York City. I signed a Manhattan lease.
It was huge for me. I feel like I will finally have a place to call my own; it's my dream studio apartment and it all happened through the fate of chance.
When I first realized I had to move from the sublet where I was living in Queens because my roommate quit her job and broke the lease, I was scared. Since moving to New York in late August, I had decided I would let myself eat out and buy Starbucks and other little luxuries I knew were within budget because of my affordable apartment. Suddenly I needed to come up with thousands of dollars to pay broker's fees, security deposit, first month's rent, moving, storage and other expenses I hadn't factored in. I was also exhausted from moving. I had just spent two months in Los Angeles, two months in San Diego and now two months in Queens.
But then something amazing happened. I asked for help.
I used my low-rent mailing list and mentioned that I needed a new place within a matter of weeks. I was floored by the response I got. Friends who I hadn't spoken to in years offered me places to stay for little to no rent at all. I was given the names of secret brokers. Resources came in I never even knew existed. A housesitting gig and a petsitting gig appeared out of nowhere. And just when I thought I had nowhere else to go for the remaining week I was homeless until my lease began on December 1, the idea hit me: I could ask my friend Molly Friedman.
I was nervous because it's such an imposition to ask to stay with someone. And Molly isn't someone who is a really close longtime friend. She's a good friend, but it was a risk. I called her, prefaced it with the fact that she could please say no right away -- and she said before I even finished my pitch, "Of course. No problem. I'll get the air mattress from my parent's place tonight. It will be fun."
Suddenly my remaining days of vagrancy wouldn't be the stressful Thing I thought it would be. My plan had been to shower at my gym, Equinox, and then sleep on the couch at xoJane and hope no one would notice or come in and find me drooling, mouth splayed, talking in my sleep (which I do).
Instead, I've been having an adult slumber party and have grown incredibly close to Molly. And it's given me a taste of my apartment to come. You see, Molly is the one who introduced me to the secret broker who got me my dream affordable apartment in Chelsea, and I'm going to be living in a studio just like hers on the first floor of her building. So while I may not technically live anywhere for a few more days, I'm getting closer. I'm now literally steps away. So close.
I've also been obsessed with Molly's way of personalizing her home. Ballet slippers pinned above a white wicker mirror on her cabinet. A Bette Davis book on top of her oven, eyes peering out perfectly. A delicate teddy bear between two formal yellow dining room chairs. Frames on all the pictures and the black-and-white one above her TV is so happy, of a woman applying lipstick with a gorgeous shirtless man watching in awe. It's a home. This is what I will have soon.
At night, as I pumped up my air mattress, she reads the New Yorker and we tell stories of our craziest times in New York. She shows me a tattoo right below her stomach she got randomly one night from a guy in his apartment when he offered and revealed his tattoo machine.
"What does the quote say?" I ask.
"It says 'love and dysfunction'," she says.
"Cool," I say.
Then she gives the kicker. "Yeah, it's a 'Will & Grace' quote," she says. "So it's like the uncoolest thing ever."
I die laughing. "No," I say, "that's amazing. That's perfect."
Tonight I opened the door to Molly's apartment, saw her in the corner, writing, and told her I had two surprises. She sat up on her bed upright and clapped her hands. I threw her a pack of Marlboro Reds.
"Yay," she squealed. "Thank you!"
"I have one more surprise," I said. And then I pulled from out in the hallway our mutual friend Sam Lansky who she hasn't seen in ages.
"Oh, my God, Sam!" Molly said and jumped up and gave him a giant hug.
Sam told us that the other night he had prank-called a reality star and started meowing into the phone. "She answered and said, 'Who's that kitty cat on the line?'" he said, imitating her voice perfectly. "It was amazing."
We huddled together and looked through our phones for celebrities to prank. We settled on Jason Segel (I was given his phone number from another journalist for shits and giggles). My eyes lit up and my mouth hung open in excitement. "The look on your face," Molly said, cracking up. "It's just complete mischief and like, you're totally shocked and delighted with yourself." Segel didn't answer, sadly, but the giggling hysterics as the phone rang and rang were worth it alone.
All of us analyzed one another's love lives, swapping pictures, deciding who had "kind" eyes, comparing our experiences and assessing how accurate our "dick-dar" was -- and planning our trips overseas when we won Power Ball tomorrow. Tahiti first.
Then we talked about a very irritating ad executive we knew. Oh, gossip. So fun. "He's invited me to his weekend house before," I said. "But I can think of a lot of things I'd rather do instead of that. Like you know, stay in a trash can."
"Or get hit by a car. Or drown," Sam added. "I mean -- if we're talking about things we'd enjoy more."
"Sons of Anarchy" was on, and Sam said, "I want there to be a show that combines 'Bunheads' and 'Sons of Anarchy' called 'Buns of Anarchy.'" Molly and I broke into hysterics, and I Insty-ed it on my phone. Then I told them both of them my favorite insult I've read of late in the xoJane comments of our new column "Unpopular Opinion," where someone said, "Nice Instagram face."
"Perfect," they agreed. Sam headed to the door, said, "I love you both," and blew us kisses.
Seriously? Best slumber party ever.
So, my loves. Have you ever had an adult slumber party situation like this before? And when you were a kid and had actual legit slumber parties, did you play that game, "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board"? Oh, that totally reminds me. At one point, Sam and Molly and I decided we were basically like a bunch of witches in "The Craft," and we just needed a fourth member to complete the circle. Who knows, maybe someone from the cult of XO could fit the bill? Sorry, you can't be Fairuza Balk. Sam claimed it.
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.