Wearing busted high heels and eating from the Wendy’s dollar menu, my stability was hanging on by a thread. I was living on a dream in New York City, and I was struggling. But even on the toughest day, I always had the Apple store. It was my writing hub.
The store was a daily destination. It was a place to feel alive, a warm place on a cold day and there was always a store employee to greet me and ask how I was doing. Although, I hadn’t exactly told the store employees about my in-store writing venture yet.
It was tough to survive working as one of the tiniest models in NYC. I had a few modeling agencies calling me but that didn’t mean I could afford a computer or laptop or my electric bill. However, I had hustled for years and I felt that I had a story to tell. I just didn’t have a computer to write it on. So I had started writing a manuscript about my modeling journey at the Apple store on their free display computers.
I would strut into the Apple store around noon with a fifty-cent street coffee in hand, and use their computers for my writing sessions, which typically would last between an hour up to four hours. Sometimes I would have to wait thirty minutes or more for an available computer. But once I was on a 17” iMac I was on a mission and was meant not to be disturbed or interrupted.
Even though my rent was going on two months late, I felt secure and stable when I was writing on their display computers.
When I finally had no option and had to give up my apartment, the Apple store became a main source of survival and inspiration while en-route to another friend’s couch. To manage bouncing around from friend’s couch to friend’s couch, I made it easier on myself by whittling all I owned down to a medium size suitcase.
I would work on my manuscript daily at the Apple store. The store was always busy with loud teenagers and sophisticated technology trend followers, baby strollers and parents screaming at their kids, and the regulars. The fast pace of the store actually encouraged me to write, and get off my chest what was in my heart and on my mind. It had an influence on my writing. I saved each writing session as an attachment to my Yahoo email account.
However, sometimes writing in a public place can be challenging. I remember one day I battled it out with the Apple store computer I was working on. After a fulfilling writing session the Internet had been abruptly shut off. After about a minute of waiting for it to be turned back on, I hit the table with my fist. People stared with puzzled looks, but they didn’t understand what I had been working on. They didn’t understand how important my manuscript was to me and until the Internet came on, I wouldn’t be able to save my document onto my email account.
When an employee said, “Just go buy a CD and burn your document onto that” I almost wanted to laugh. If only he knew I could barely afford my MetroCard each week, he would know that buying a pack of CD’s wasn’t an option.
I kept clicking the Safari icon, hoping the Internet connection would be there. I didn’t want to re-write it! It wouldn’t be the same if I had to start over again another time.
The store was very busy today and the employee had said, “Sorry, it’s free Internet.” It was free, but it had been my writing’s lifeline.
I had used the Apple Store every single day, or just about, for the past eight months as my office. Now I was feeling the desperation of my choices and lifestyle. I realized how much I had sacrificed for the belief in myself and my book. Standing there, without the Internet and without my document, I was having an epiphany. And I wouldn’t leave until I got my document safe and saved.
The store had been so good to me up until this point. I wondered who else would allow themselves to be this desperate, to need a place so badly to feel alive.
I thought about the hours, the days, and the months that I had stood in front of an iMac and wrote page after page between sips of coffee. Was this crazy? Most people would say so. But it made sense to me. I would eventually save my document and continue writing for a few more months at the Apple store.
After my manuscript was finished, and later when the book was published, I would look back and think about how a desperate moment in my pursuits had created my need for the Apple store. And how the store had inspired me to write. Without it, I might not have written my memoir after all. The Apple store became much more than a place to write, it became a part of my story as well. And although I don’t plan to write another book on their display computers, the next time you visit the Apple store, remember the person standing next to you could be crafting their dreams.
Isobella Jade is an author and model based in New York City, her modeling memoir is called Almost 5’4” which she originally wrote at the Apple store. She is also the author of a graphic novel called Model Life: The Journey of a Pint-Size Fashion Warrior, and Short Stuff: on the job with an x-small model. She is currently writing a young adult series and writes daily about modeling at her blog www.petitemodelingtips.com .