Because You Asked
I’m sitting here in the early morning, drinking the last sips of coffee and listening to my radiator do that muffled scream that it does on cold days.
I’m paralyzed by the blinking cursor and the deadline of my 800 monthly post--hopefully this comforts you in a miserable way. When writing intimidates me, I take a deep breath and think of a story. I don’t have to know the main point or the appropriate metaphors or even how it will end. I just tell the story and let the writing process do the rest.
So the story I’m telling today is the unseen side of moving to New York, the details of how I got here in ways that even I don’t understand. And before I start, let me say, yes, I know that all of my stories lately have been about New York. Yes, it’s low-hanging fruit. Yes, transitioning cities has been the most all-consuming part of my life. I apologize and acknowledge this. If you’re annoyed, please simply move onto the next mediocre piece of writing on the Internet.
When people ask me how my transition to New York has been, I say that it’s been abnormally smooth. Most people do not live rent-free for their first month or get a job in a week or find an apartment with rent that doesn’t make them want to gauge their eyes out once a month. My experience has been annoyingly easy, and I don’t think I did anything “right.” I think I was given a gift for no other reason than the gift-giver is generous and kind and pestered Him in prayer for a year.
My journey to New York begins over a year ago, in late-November 2017. One of my clients and mentors arranged a phone call between me and her acquiring editor. I came to the phone call with a list of questions and drilled the nice editor lady with inquiries about her life, her job, and what next steps I should take.
When it came to my next steps, she casually mentioned, “Well, if you really want to be in publishing, you should move to New York…”
We both paused to let the possibility hang in the air.
“...but who wants to live in New York?!” she laughed. And I laughed too.
“Yeah. New York. Insane. No one. Not me.”
Later that afternoon, I drove to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for Thanksgiving. A five hour car ride alone with my thoughts. For some reason I kept coming back to New York. The thought of moving there seemed crazy and impossible, but I let myself entertain it for a while. Could I see myself living in New York? Could I imagine a universe in which that was actually possible? Did people actually live there?
Yes, they did. They do. A lot of people, actually. It’s not some mythical place that exists in movies and reality TV shows. It’s a real place with real people. And if they can live there, maybe I can too.
So in a “what the hell” moment, I starting talking to God about it. Just chatting. Bouncing ideas off of Him in the silence of my Camry and the openness of a rural Louisiana highway. I talked to Him about how New York sounded fun. Actually, it sounded amazing--like my wildest dream come true. I never thought it would actually happen, but there was no harm in bringing my dreams into the light through prayer.
As I prayed, three specific requests came to mind:
A job, preferably in publishing, that I enjoyed with pleasant co-workers
An affordable apartment in a safe neighborhood with a grocery store within walking distance
A community of people who love God, love me, and would help my faith grow
I set an alarm on my phone for 3pm and set it to repeat every day. I thought of the persistent widow in the Bible, who annoyed the judge with her request so many times he eventually gave in. The point being, how much more will a God who loves to give good gifts not lavishly bless those that ask for it? So, with absolutely nothing to lose, I bent the Lord’s ear in prayer for a solid year. Every day (almost), my alarm would go off at 3pm and wherever I was, I would say a quick prayer for New York. I asked God to open the doors, to make those three things come true, and to show me what steps to take.
In January, I learned about the Columbia Publishing Course and applied. In March, I found out I got in. And in August, I moved out of my apartment in Texas and started making plans to move to New York, still hoping that the job, apartment, and friends would come.
I’m way over my word count now, but you know how it ends. I completed the Columbia Publishing Course with a great education, fabulous connections, and enough reason to believe I could make it. I had met a precious couple when I visited New York over the summer who offered to let me live with them for free until I got settled. I got a job within one week of moving that I enjoy, with co-workers I love. I now have the cutest apartment with the dearest roommates, insanely cheap rent (for New York), and a Trader Joe’s less than 10 blocks away. I’ve met the sweetest and strongest community at Church of the City.
And what’s the point of this story? Just to show that cool things can happen when you pray. New York felt impossible, but with every prayer, it seemed a little less impossible. It hasn’t been glamorous, it wasn’t quick, the dominoes didn’t fall in a pretty linear pattern. This last year has been marked by enormous anxiety, spiritual depression, fear, Oxford, doubt, risk, and a few bruised relationships that are healing. I am still a human and the beautiful dream is still just life. But I’ve been stunned by the power of persistent prayer--the unseen mystery of talking to God, of asking for the desires of your heart but holding them with an open hand, of receiving gifts that are beyond your wildest dreams and realizing they are yours, not because you deserve it, but because you simply asked.