It was part joke, part playful experiment, but now I had a problem: I had nowhere to stay.
I had booked a flight from Texas to New York because there was no way I would celebrate New Year’s Eve anywhere else. It was the night before Christmas when I realized I would be without a roof over my head when the ball dropped in Times Square.
Inspired by the web series, “High Maintenance,” I made a daring leap.
I signed up for an OkCupid account and called myself “homeless_heidi.” My bio stated that I was a female student looking to spend New Year’s in the city and needed a place to stay. In exchange for a place to sleep, I offered to pay for dinner every night and provide a bed if he ever came to D.C. (the latter a promise I had no intention of keeping).
The response was overwhelming. The next morning, before I even got the wrapping paper off my gifts, I’d received over 300 messages from eager young men offering me a place to crash, regardless of whether or not I paid for their meals.
My final tally was more than 1,500 messages. Clearly, I was onto something.
After talking to a handful of handsome men, I began the virtual interrogations, with a little cyber-stalking on the side. After assessing the probability of murder, I settled on Tavi, a cute pot dealer with an apartment in Chelsea.
Two days later, I was in New York. In a taxi en route to Tavi’s, I received a text message: My host had changed his mind. I was out on the street and a panic attack was imminent.
I opened up Tinder and changed my bio to “I need a place to stay tonight and I smell great.”
After sitting in a Caffe Bene hopelessly swiping right on every doable guy between the ages of 18 and 25 in New York City for three hours — and despite getting significantly more matches than I do in the District — only one person was serious about offering me a place. His name was Andrew. He had just graduated from New York University’s Stern School of Business and was working as a consultant with IBM. We met up in Midtown.
I vented about my hectic day and he told me I was free to stay with him for the entirety of my trip. Then came a snag: He lived way up in Morningside Heights. I knew I could do better, so I kept working Tinder.
On New Year’s, I ended up at a party with this host of whom I wasn’t too fond and his NYU friends. I sipped my drink quietly in a corner all night.
A few days in and I was glad I was still working on a Plan B. Despite Andrew saying I could stay indefinitely, there was some tension in the air. Perhaps he wanted some lip service in exchange for the blow-up mattress that deflated every night. Who knows? We’re all fine with doing the deed for fashion, but going down on an Airbnb host is just too intimate.
An OKCupid match, Jack, had been my first choice all along. We’d been talking nonstop since Christmas, but he wasn’t returning to New York until Jan. 5, the day I planned to head back to D.C.
Despite my experiences with Andrew and Tavi, I was still curious about Jack, so I hightailed it from Uptown to the last pad I’ve scored through a dating app – this time, a loft in Brooklyn.
Jack was well-endowed and got the “High Maintenance” reference, so needless to say, I ended up staying in the city until the first day of the spring semester.