One of my favorite books of the bible is the book of Esther. She was a courageous woman of faith who put her life on the line for her people. But my absolute favorite part about the book is the role God played in all of it. He is not mentioned by name in the book but you can see him working behind the scenes. He was setting things up, putting people here and there, making bad things turn out for good, and setting up opportunities. That’s how I like to think God worked in my life when I moved to Boston.
I was having no luck finding a job in television fresh out of college. I had no work experience and no one wanted to hired me. So I decided that I could gain more experience and opportunities if I went back to school.
I first applied to George Washington, American University, and the University of Maryland to stay close to home. But, they all rejected me for acceptance. I was a little disappointed but I had no choice but to once again attend an out of state school. I applied to Emerson College. I’d never heard of this college. I’d never been to Boston either. All I knew was that this Emerson College had a heavy focus on Journalism and I really wanted to get into this school. I sent in this crazy interest letter about how a loud mouth, inquisitive, Oprah wanna be would fit perfectly into their school of Broadcast Journalism. I wasn’t expecting to get in with that letter and my average grades in undergrad but I did. I didn’t know at the time that Emerson was one of the top Journalism schools in the country, better than all the colleges I applied to in Maryland and DC.
At the end of the summer my mom and I took the 9 hour drive to Boston to look for apartments in the city. In 2003, there were no dorms for graduate students. In fact, there was no campus. It was literally a bunch of buildings right in the middle of the city on the corner of Boylston and Tremont street. So I, at the tender age of 22 with no credit, had to find an apartment.
Before traveling to Boston, my mom booked an appointment with a realtor that she found on the internet. When we arrived we turned onto Newbury Street and parked our car in front of the building. However when we knocked on the door no one answered. In fact no one was even in the office! Great, we drove 9 hours and our realtor flaked. Oddly enough we glanced across the street and found another realtor office that was open. Knowing nothing about Boston, we had no idea that Newbury Street was the Rodeo Drive of Boston or that the Back Bay was one of the most expensive areas in all of Boston. So when the realtor showed us a shoebox on the upper east side of Commonwealth Ave for 15-hundred dollars, we looked at her as if she’d lost her mind. I mean literally a shoebox, with only a coat closet, a refrigerator for a midget, and a small stove that I probably use to play with in Kindergarten. I couldn’t even breath in there. My mom and I were taking turns breathing. Next!
The next apartment was nice but it was on the bottom floor with a patio. The patio wasn’t bad except that the fence surrounding it had a large opening that connected to an alley. There was no gate or door to close it, just an open space facing an alley. At this point we gathered that we accidentally strolled up on a rich neighborhood because who the hell does that? This open space was unacceptable. All I needed was for some drunken fool to stroll up on my patio and it was going to be on and poppin’. Next!
The third apartment was bleak. The guy currently renting the apartment was sitting in the living room in his boxer shorts playing video games. He also didn’t keep the apartment clean as there were roach motels everywhere and piles of dirty dishes in the sink that probably hadn’t been touched for weeks. We moved on.
We were about to give up and try another day when we were shown the last apartment which I would call my home. It was on St. Botolph Street, right across from the Prudential Center, Prudential Mall, Shaws Grocery Store, the T(Boston’s subway system), a 7-11, and a Laundromat. I was also five minutes from the school by subway, 20 minutes walking. The landlord couldn’t find anybody to rent the apartment for the price he was asking for so he lowered the rent for me.
I didn’t have any credit. My family’s money was funny as well and their credit just wouldn’t get it. But the owners of my building took a chance on me and gave me cheaper rent. There were lawyers, nurses, doctors, and CEO’s living on St. Botolph Street. I was a broke grad student living off a small portion of my father’s GI Bill and student loans.
Looking back on this experience I realized that God orchestrated it all. From being rejected from three schools but getting into the best Journalism school in the country, to accidentally strolling up on an upper middle class neighborhood, to our original realtor not showing up and finding the one that would lead me to my very convenient apartment, to my landlord who gave a 22 year old with no credit a chance and also gave me lower rent amongst all those who actually could afford to live there at any price. But, even with all of this, God wasn’t finished with me quite yet…