Recently I went to visit a good friend in Philadelphia and she asked me, “So how are you still liking New York?”
Anyone who has ever lived in New York City understands that there is a perpetual love-hate relationship that begins to take shape as soon as the initial triumph of having moved to New York wears off. Truth be told, there are a lot of pretty shitty things about New York. Just a few examples: the acrid stench of piss in the hotter-than-bowels-of-hell subway stations in the summer; the hyperloop-fast pace of life that everyone operates on; the literally hundreds of people that stand between you and purchasing the Trader Joe’s masala-spiced veggie burgers that you love so much; the fact that these 300-square-feet micro apartments exist “to help young professionals find appropriate housing” (that’s a space that’s only 10 feet by 30 feet wide, people!), and that you still have to pay $2000 a month to live in one(!!); and the constant pressure to have more money than you actually do, to wear better clothes than you actually do, to have a cooler coif than currently sits on your head, and to have achieved more success than you have actually achieved. These things, frankly, do not rock about living in New York City.
And yes, residents of quieter, less-trendy, less-densely populated places don’t have to deal with this bullshit. We’re a sort of brother/sisterhood–comrades who’ve all taken a few punches from New York at some point, have gotten bruised though not completely knocked down, and somehow, emerge on the other side still defending this city for all its worth. It’s us against them. They have parking spaces that are easy to find, can buy a jar of salsa for less than $7.99, can sleep through the night without being woken by a bus wheezing and screeching on the street below, and they don’t get body checked by aggressive homeless people on the street (this actually happened to me the other day–totally unprovoked). But the funny thing about living in New York is that one minute you’re getting body slammed by a homeless woman with crazy eyes, and the next Julia Stiles jogs by while you’re enjoying a bloody mary, and you’re just like, “Eh, all just a day in the life.” I’m not sure what I even really mean by that, but it was a series of events that happened to me that felt very New York. I guess what I’m trying to say is: All those shitty things about New York? They don’t quite outweigh all the truly awesome things that sometimes–just sometimes–make it feel like a privilege to live here.
I’m reminded of this on certain occasions, like when friends ask me how I like living in New York, or when the Golden Hour sun glints off all the windows flanking a long Manhattan avenue. Or when I spend an afternoon in Brooklyn Bridge Park, or I check out any blog about NYC ever and remember that there is more cool stuff happening just one $2.50 train ride away than in almost any other place in the world.
I was reminded of it again when I went to the Joyce Theater last week for a performance of the Company C Contemporary Ballet. Being that I am poor (see: above gripe about never having enough money), we took advantage of the fact that the Joyce offers $10 tickets! Our seats were in the front row, so we couldn’t see some of the dancers’ footwork, but it was certainly worth the $10 to watch these beautiful, lithe dancers move in ways that made you completely awestruck by the power and control (some very talented) humans can have over their bodies.
But the cool events happen constantly–and they’re often free! This weekend, I am checking out an art installation in a closed-off traffic tunnel and also going to Governor’s Island for a traveling turn-of-the-century vintage amusement park. Both gratis, both uber cool, both sort of haute culture, if you will?
It turns out living in New York City has its perks. It’s just constantly testing you to make sure you really want to be here.