Rents may fall and rents may rise (and rise and rise and rise), but one thing that is fixed about living in New York City, and has been ever since the colonizers came here on their dirty-ass boats, is that you’re cohabiting with rats.
This is a beautiful truth to grasp onto when reality feels so slippery, something to accept and savor: Even when you feel all alone and anonymous in the gray skyscraper wind tunnels of the big city, you can always find solace in a rat being one to three feet away from your feet as they hit the unforgiving pavement.
Rats are good guys. They exemplify the moxie that it takes to survive in the concrete jungle; they entertain and they are exemplary citizens of earth. They get a bad rep because they carry disease and seem to be dirty and, should they chew their way into your apartment, will eat all your peanut butter without replacing it like a bad roommate. (I’ve had worse.) Sure, you don’t want to go to sleep with them around, but there are plenty of people in New York City you don’t want to sleep with—certainly more you don’t than you do, I would wager by nearly 99-100 percent or thereabouts. (Could be less, I don’t know your life.)
And so when a baby rat happens to crawl up your pipe into your bathroom sink, I would hope that your first response is not to slander the rat, or screech, or be appalled at the state of the sewage system. (Entirely different issue; I blame Cuomo!!!!!!) The proper reaction is one of awe and hope at the miracle of life and sheer flexibility of the mammalian form; any number of tiny submarines built by Elon Musk would get stuck in the hairpin turns and require you to ring up a plumber, who would likely cost you hundreds of dollars. A rat, though, can squish and squirm up, a little gymnast looking for her first taste of life.
She crawls out into the sink, her first sniffs of oxygen sweetened by the cool porcelain. She looks around, her eyes barely a squint, assessing her surroundings; she does not yet know how vast and difficult and rewarding the world is, nor does she even grasp the expanse of your bathroom. (Consider this, the next time you are cursing the bathroom in your apartment, a former tenement in which the tub is still in the kitchen with the only sink: To a rat, your tiny WC is a paradise.) The baby rat is a symbol of promise, a reminder of that which is precious. The baby rat is a gift.