Meet Saphia, a young bell hooks fanatic trying desperately to build a good life in New York City. Constantly immersed in the latest idea she has discovered while reading hooks, Saphia is determined to figure out how to apply these liberatory ideals to her own life. But the one thing she doesn’t account for is a little surprise encouragement from the legend herself.

As we near the end of season one, Saphia digs deeper into the concept of home, and what it means to build one. Because that’s what’s at the core of the conversation around gentrification, right? Our right to a home. A home within our larger community, a nest, a sanctuary. What does home mean to you?

Click here to learn more about this new series from Edge studios, and follow @npquarterly and @offthehookshorts on social to see episodes of “Off the Hook” as they are released. 

(A candle is lit. A jazzy tune plays. Everything is bathed in blue light.) 

SAPHIA (voiceover): If you live in New York City, or any other place with a volatile housing market, maybe you’ve been where I’ve found myself: waiting… 

(A cart against a wall.) 

… after finally finding that apartment sort of in your budget.  

(Saphia places a lamp atop the cart.) 

Waiting to see if your rent will go up, if your roommate will move out, if you’ll have to move again. It can stop you from doing a lot of things.  

(Saphia places a vase on the cart.) 

Getting to know your neighbors, making plans too far in advance, building a home.  

(Saphia places ferns into the vase.) 

For a long time, I did this. I kept my cheap furniture from my first apartment, even though the bed would creak and shuffle and the mattress was hard.  

(Saphia hangs a painting on the wall.) 

I kept my too-small desk, just in case the next place I lived in had a small bedroom like my last place. I fully submitted to the ever-present knowledge that I am not in my own home, in a literal sense.  

(Saphia sits down at a table, in front of the painting she just hung.) 

I am in someone else’s home, perhaps padding their retirement, paying off their mortgage, helping someone else along, financially, but not doing any kind of investing in myself.  

(Saphia sips a glass of wine.) 

And then I got really fucking sick of thinking this way. Because the truth is, whether your housing is secure for 12 months or 12 years, or forever, everyone deserves to have a home.  

(Saphia begins to read.) 

A place that feels like yours. A place that feels safe. A place you’ve made your own. So I started. I bought the kind of furniture and paintings I’d always wanted but never thought to spend my money on. I found that perfect seat for reading. I built a life here. And every night, after work, I come home.  

(Saphia blows out the candle.)