A Quick List of Four or Five Things That Surprised Me (a Cincinnati Weirdo-cum-Texas Bumpkin) about New York City.
1. EVERYONE WANTS TO LEAVE. If the total number of people who told me how much they want to leave were to suddenly up and leave, New York would diminish by half. Which is an enormous half if you consider that Brooklyn is TWO POINT FIVE MILLION PEOPLE ALONE. THAT’S ONE BOROUGH. ONE. THERE’S FIVE. Y’ALL. I list this first because within a week of being here, it appalled me. So many people bemoan the fact that they, “hate it here!”, or “don’t know why I’m still here”, or “would love to move back home”. I’m grateful when I meet people who love it here, or have a strong reason to stay. Sure, everyone gets upset with their surroundings, but the amount of dissatisfaction in New York is overbearing. People hate it here, and yet they stay. It could be the distance and space of my current situation, but I find it shocking. Don’t stay where you aren’t happy. Leave. Do the things you’re doing here elsewhere. There’s nothing here that you can’t do elsewhere, unless you’re trying to be a Wall Street mogul or casting executive. And even then. If you aren’t fulfilled, if you aren’t satisfied, if you’re depressed and weary and miserable–LEAVE. If you have the means and the ability to–LEAVE. Broadly this applies to relationships, jobs, and other things, but we can start and stop with geography for tonight. Is that crazy to say?
2. PEOPLE ARE JUST AS NICE HERE AS ANYWHERE ELSE. I’ve remarked upon this before, but we’re gonna talk about it again. People are nice here. Even the dissatisfied ones. People are so willing to give you directions. To help you find the best coffee. To offer suggestions for what to do on a Saturday night. To ask how your day is. People are just as kind and friendly as anywhere else. I wonder if the rumor about rudeness comes from the general clip the city moves at. The city itself has a pace, and it’s faster than most. People do move quickly; you have to get on and off the train, up and down the stairs, in and out the door. But there’s nothing that I’ve seen outside of ordinary people being ordinarily obnoxious. And by the same token, ordinarily kind and ordinarily helpful.
3. THERE ARE FREE BOOKS EVERYWHERE. People just leave books on the curb. Textbooks, NYT best sellers, plays, scripts, dictionaries. For the taking. It’s amazing. AMAZING. It’s basically my favorite thing.
4. THE CITY IS VERY EXPENSIVE, BUT SO IS BEING ALIVE. This might be controversial to say. And it is coming from someone couch surfing. Take it with a big old grain of salt. It is partially based on my own experience, and that of my friends. This city is very expensive. And yet. The people I know here who are thriving, the people who (based on the list above) do want to be here, are very nice, and enjoy the occasional free book, spend thrifty and live well. People who thrive here are so neat, to borrow a word from my grandpa. They bust ass, spend carefully, and enjoy every thing this place has to offer. From free concerts, to the best happy hours, to skirting covers by networking, to fashion shows and days at the beach, there is a way to live here and enjoy yourself. It requires some nights in. It requires packing your lunch. But the reward, the reward being the best parts of NEW YORK CITY, seems worth it.
5. THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE IT, MAKE IT. This is a bonus. This is for free. This seems obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. It’s a reiteration of the previous four. The people who love this place make this place. They’ll probably stay here forever. New York is strange, smelly, ethically gray at times, and absolutely breakneck. But when someone takes you to the Highline on a Sunday afternoon and you stop to see where the trains rest at night along the Hudson, you know it’s worth it. When someone takes you along 5th Ave through Bay Ridge, and you weave between block parties, talking well into the night, you know it’s special. They’ve taken you to the place where the magic percolates until it’s ready to disperse. There are pockets of it everywhere. Find the people who know it. Find the people who make their own. Find the people who are happy to be alive, thriving. These are good people. This is the best New York. I’m so lucky to be here.
I love you. I miss you. I hope to see you soon.