LIFE IN NEW YORK CITY





New York City was never the pie in the sky. It’s just normal to me. Growing up 45 minutes outside of the city, “the City” was where my dad worked. My mom was from "Brooklyn". It’s where we would drive to for Turkish food. It’s where I would go on weekends in high school to buy expensive vintage tee shirts, drink Starbucks frappuccinos, and smoke hookah on 1st & 1st.

The allure of NYC that people have from small towns/out-of-state never occurred to me. It was just common trajectory that people from my town would probably go to college, immediately procure a summer internship and commute on the Metro North. Then they’d move to Stuy Town when the internship became a job, date, move in with a significant other, get engaged, married, and go back to the suburbs. So, when my entire high school and half of my college class ended up in New York, along with my brothers and parents, I’ve never stopped trying to leave.

The problem is, I love New York City. I love New York City like you love family. It’s never been novel, it’s just what you know - in sickness and in health. It’s really easy to blame everything on New York City, rarely show it any appreciation, but miss it and not know how much you take it for granted, until you’re somewhere else. That being said, I still get urges to leave. Not forever, I tell myself. Because I know everything will be the same even if I take a break. The rent might get higher but the city will always be the city, and that is key.

Essays about living in New York are nothing new, and they’re always painted with the binary opposition of love and hate. So, I will follow suit and try to paraphrase the best and worst things about being a New Yorker.





Top 10 Best/Worst:


1. Bodegas: It is my goal to write an ethnography about bodegas. Why do they exist? How have they withstood the test of rent increases? How long have majority of their products been on their shelves?


2. Walkability: No city that I’ve been to yet, except maybe Tokyo, London, and Tel Aviv, has walking down pat. My favorite days are just strolling around my neighborhood or exploring new/old ones. Highlights include: shouting out when something has closed or opened, seeing altercations on the street, and the people watching. There are so many different people in NYC. When I think about moving and then think about how I’d need a car… I just can’t.


3. Restaurants/Bars: So many bars, so many restaurants. One of my favorite questions is “If you ate every meal out for your entire life, would you be able to go to all the restaurants in NYC?” Pretty sure it’s a no. When I think about moving, and someone says, “But they don’t have good Asian food…” I have to really be sure about this next place. Some spots are way too expensive and require lines to get in, and if that’s your jam - cool. But there’s always a place around the corner to go to instead.


4. Dating: Dating can be rough here. It’s especially horrid if you have favorite places (parks, bars, restaurants, activities), and you keep going to them with different serious boyfriends. That gets depressing. Stuy Town is the scene of getting dumped, but now my niece lives there. Madison Square Park is another break up location, but also where I eat lunch every day in the summer? But one time, I got set up on a blind date, went to a concert, and he gave me a jar of peanut butter! One time, I went out with a guy I met at Associated Supermarket. I still get to dance-floor-makeout at Brooklyn Bowl, and one time an actual human male cooked me dinner. The question is, is dating better elsewhere?


5. Subway Moments: I feel so awkward on the subway that I am the person who wears her sunglasses for 6 stops. I’m too short to hold on to anything but poles, and I rarely take my backpack off. But when a dog on the train sparks conversations amongst strangers, it is the most glorious thing. Shared subway moments with strangers over terrible saxophone players, or teenagers having a hilarious conversation, has to be the most rewarding interpersonal connection that humans can experience. If I lived somewhere else and had to drive, I’d be really up-to-date with pop music.


6. Live Music: Everyone tours in NYC. It’s a fact. If you don’t live in NYC, there’s a higher chance that your favorite band will never come to your city. We might have your favorite band show up twice that year.


7. Seasons: So, winter is my least favorite thing on earth until climate change started and I was never sweaty or freezing, and comfortable in in my oversized sweater and scarf for 3 months in a row. My friends in LA claim to miss seasons, and I guess I understand this, but I really do think I’d be just fine in a warm climate like 60s-90s all year round. Sign me up. I hear flights come into NYC every day so if I really miss fall, I can wear my leather jacket for a weekend visit.


8. Making a Home: Here’s the kicker. Living in NYC is so expensive that until I am convinced my next apartment will be my home for 4+ years, ideally sharing that home with another human because I cannot afford to live there alone… a “home” doesn’t exist here. For the last 5 years, I have lived with 2 or more people, in fairly crappy buildings, with perfectly comfortable couches and amenities, but it’s not my home the way my brother and his wife have a home. Living in NYC will always feel temporary until I make it into a home. And I'm just not ready to make that monetary investment. And you know what I really love? Backyards and trees. Hard to come by here…


9. Stress: Just like live music is plentiful here, so is stress. I sit at home with a clenched jaw and knots in my shoulders on a Sunday afternoon when I have nothing to do. It’s because I have nothing to do and I barely know how to relax. I am 6/7 days walking fast and rushing. I am 6/7 days on edge about being asked to do something or feeling pressured to have a commitment to someone else. And I basically book flights as often as possible because as soon as a plane takes off and I’ve lost contact with the world for 2-14 hours, it is amazing. I know that if I move somewhere else, I will not be immune to the same work/relationship stress that is here, but I am sure the collective community stress is a fraction.


10. Views: The view of the Empire State, Chrystler, whole midtown vibe never gets old. Every bike ride over the Williamsburg bridge is breathtaking and half riding backwards to get a view of dat city skyline. Every rooftop dalliance begins with searching for the notable skyline. However, other cities definitely have their highlights - Pacific Ocean views, mountainscapes, Golden Gate Bridge, ya know, there are arguments to be made for other views. But the city skyline doesn't get old.


And with this love letter, here’s to resigning my lease, but moving out before the L train shuts down.