It was around 10am on a Monday morning July 2015. I had landed in New York the Saturday before and then spent most of Sunday stocking the fridge of my Harlem Apartment and sleeping. I was watching Scandal on Netflix, mentally planning my day when I heard a knock on my door- It wasn’t a normal knock either, more like someone trying to break into my apartment. I looked through the spy hole to see a big black man with a badge and I hesitantly opened up, thinking they were going to ask me questions about an incident in my building. “Is your name Leomie Anderson? If so you have been evicted and have ten minutes to vacate the premises”… You what mate?? I pleaded with him to give me more time to gather my stuff together and kept repeating “I’ve paid my rent” but he didn’t care. I grabbed a few papers on the side, my passport and a jacket and was forced to watch them change my lock in front of my eyes and slap a red and white eviction notice on my door while I cried for approximately 3 minutes.
Living alone in your twenties is one thing, but doing it in a different country is a completely different ball game and in situations like mine, there’s really not much time to cry. Instead, I stood outside my place to use the wifi (can’t evict me from using that!), googled the address of the courthouse I had to attend, spoke to an attorney and then called my ex. My mum and Dad were probably the last to even know that their 22 year old daughter was technically homeless and apparently over 3 months behind in rent, but when you’re completely alone in a different country, you learn to stand on your own two feet and you learn, sometimes the hard way, who not to trust.
The reason I was evicted was because I had let my ex stay in my apartment while I was in London so he could find his feet after I broke up with him and every month he claimed he was paying the rent. When I looked through the pile of papers I grabbed before I was kicked out, it turned out I had been summoned to court as early as May (it was last July now) and my ex hadn’t been paying the rent. I had to call a distant friend who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in months and ask to stay at their house with their mum because I wasn’t allowed back in my own apartment until I had paid what I owed. I had to go to court in Harlem the following day and pay a HUGE chunk of money in rent and fines before I could get back into my apartment and tear the embarrassing eviction sign off of my door.
I’m not stupid and of course I tracked down my ex like a CIA Agent by reaching out to every family member I could to get him to pay me back the majority of the money he owed the next day but thats besides the point- I had still been to an American Court House and been through Hell all by myself just because I was naive enough to trust someone who I knew didn’t even have their own life together; but he was the only person I really knew in New York. He hadn’t done it on purpose, more like he tried to pay, sent it to the wrong address, and tried to fix it in secret and failed. I could tell you more details like how drunk my ex got when he found out how much I had to pay or how sad the landlord (the same woman who called the Marshall/ bailiff on me to get me evicted lol) looked when I explained that it really wasn’t my fault, but the main thing I want people to take away from this story is that living alone in a different country isn’t easy.
At times, living in New York didn’t feel real, it felt like an actual movie but my advice to anyone who want to live abroad is that you cannot be naive to the fact that not everyone will have your best interests at heart. You can get into situations where calling your mum and dad is literally the least helpful thing you could do but you have to keep cool and always have a strategy. Oh and make sure you have access to a rainy day fund too. Always. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean that you should cry and act like a damsel in distress; we are strong and smart and can over come any obstacle- even being evicted in the Big Apple.