First Coronavirus Hit, Then They Received Bedbugs


In June, things looked good for Posey Bartol and Theresa Alexander, two actors who lost their jobs at the start of the pandemic, and their third roommate. They’d finally found someone to take over the empty bedroom in their Hamilton Heights apartment, their unemployment checks were closed, and after 90 days of seldom venturing out, they’d started volunteering for the #OpenYourLobby Campaign to engage protesters of the Black Lives Matter.

And then they got bedbugs for the second time in less than a year.

“We really thought the treatment had worked seven months earlier,” said Ms. Bartol, 23. “The worst part was that we had nowhere else to live because of Covid while they were doing a second fumigation.”

They told their new roommate Evangelia Pappas, 22, that they would understand if she wanted to move out right away. Since they were rented from month to month, they planned to look for a new location themselves.

But Ms. Pappas, an actress who works for Levain Bakery, surprised them by saying she would stay with them. The roommates had built a good relationship the month they were together, but they hardly expected Ms. Pappas to wage war on bedbugs, especially since it was easy for her – two uncles in Long Island City to look after hers with Had lived together in January from Fresno, California, to the city.

Over the next few weeks, the women cemented their friendship, bonded over their careers, and shared a bedbug trauma.

“We call Ev our Covid blessing,” said Ms. Bartol. “Me and Theresa have found someone who is just as stupid as we are. We can all laugh at ourselves and at each other. “

The duplex apartment Ms. Bartol found in StreetEasy, where she was listed as a bedroom – although she has three full-size rooms with windows that could be used as bedrooms – was her other happy break. Six blocks from her old apartment, it’s about twice the size and has outdoor space (a garden they share with the super of the building), but she rents for the same price: $ 2,500 per month or $ 833 per person.

“We were so lucky, it’s wild,” said Ms. Bartol. “Our old place was much smaller than this one. Nobody lives in the closet, all walls are real and we have an outside area. “

$ 2,500 | Hamilton Heights

Occupation: Actor in theater and film as well as part-time jobs: Ms. Alexander is a restaurant owner; Mrs. Bartol works as a babysitter; and Ms. Pappas processes event and online orders at Levain Bakery.
Missing part-time jobs at the beginning of the pandemic: “As much as actors say they reject their other jobs, it has been a big part of my social life,” said Ms. Alexander. “It was really difficult not to be able to greet my colleagues.”
New job: By the end of the summer, Ms. Bartol had found some new babysitting customers, but it had been difficult as many families don’t want babysitters who take the subway or who live with others who do. Ms. Alexander got a new job in a Midtown restaurant.
How they met: Ms. Bartol and Ms. Alexander appeared together in a show in the Theater für die neue Stadt in 2018. Mrs. Pappas is a friend of a friend.

The women and Mrs. Bartol’s cat, Bijou, moved in on July 15 after fumigation, during which their clothes had to be dried in high heat, locked in bags and their first apartment vacated for several nights. (They could live in the Chelsea apartment of a family that Ms. Bartol had worked for before the pandemic, as the family had moved out a few weeks before their lease ended.)

They created a roommate agreement that stipulated that everyone would be responsible for their own portion of the rent for the duration of the lease. Her last roommate left without covering her rent when the pandemic hit. This was a major source of stress for Ms. Bartol and Ms. Alexander, especially because their part-time jobs had ended with the pandemic – Ms. Bartols babysitting for Broadway families and wife. Alexander as a restaurant owner. But perhaps more important than defining their financial responsibilities was a shared understanding of what their home should be.

“We talked about how we wanted to share a house,” said Ms. Bartol. “We have all lived with people who previously felt like strangers. And while creating a family atmosphere is an investment, none of us would ever settle for less again. Without Theresa and Ev, I probably wouldn’t be in New York. “

“Oh my god, no,” said Ms. Alexander, 25. “And as actors, we all have the same job and the same aspirations. It really helps to have people in the house getting it. I don’t know what condition I would be in if I didn’t have a roommate who understood what this pandemic is doing to me socially and emotionally. “

“It’s nice to come home and have people to tell you about your day,” said Ms. Pappas.

The women regularly lift their spirits at dance parties in the kitchen. They also help each other with auditions, which these days are done remotely.

“I think a lot of people had family assets to fall back on during the pandemic and jobs that they could do from home,” Ms. Bartol said. “We haven’t, so it’s very important that we help each other. Even if it only sings together. “

Ms. Pappas remembered her first audition at home. She had to sing and read in front of the camera, but she had just returned from a day of packing shipments for the bakery and was feeling so exhausted she just wanted to sit quietly in her room. When Mrs. Alexander and Mrs. Bartol came to ask if she needed help, she refused.

“But then Posey came back and said, ‘Do you need someone to read with you?’ And I said, “Yes,” said Ms. Pappas. “It’s like when the family asks if you need help and you say, ‘No.’ And then you come over that hump and admit that you do.”

Despite the pandemic, bedbugs, and difficulty finding acting and other jobs in recent months, the women said they were glad they hadn’t given in to their family’s urges to leave New York.

“We don’t even have bedrooms there anymore, but our parents saw New York on the news and said, ‘Come home, the world is going to end,” said Ms. Bartol, who moved to New York from North Carolina four years ago, after High School.

“What they didn’t see were all the good moments – we were up on the fire escape every day and clapping, and then the protests happened,” she continued. “But I think they finally took a breath, realized that everything will be fine and have a lot of peace that we can live together.”

“Going home – it was never appealing,” said Ms. Alexander, who is also from North Carolina and moved to New York three years ago after college.

“Who knows what the city will be like in the coming months,” said Ms. Bartol. “Fortunately we all found each other and we all feel that this is our home. For example, “I’m the best version of myself here.”