A Much-Needed Ode To An Oft-Forgotten City

America can be kind of tragic. It’s so humongous, geographically speaking, and has such a diverse collection of people, of backgrounds, of stories to tell and be heard. And with the many warm little clusters of people huddling together around tall buildings, the “cities” that dot our landscape like a misshapen constellation, it’s sometimes hard to understand why absolutely none of them are interesting or relevant. None of them, that is, except New York City.

Ahh, New York. The Big Apple. Manhattan. “Hey, I’m Walkin He-uh!” NYC. The Bagel With a Schmear. When Harry/Carrie Met Sally/Big. That pulsing, vibrating, electric, overwhelming, incredibly overpriced city that dreams are made of. What would we do without it? Where would we go to live in tiny, crowded apartments incredibly far away from our jobs and school with people we can barely stand? Where else would we stand outside of faux-ethnic dining establishments frequented only by privileged young white people in cutoff jorts? What other city would provide us with such endless, interesting, original fodder about how interesting our neighborhoods are, the love/hate relationships we have with our bodegas, and the parties we want to get into? What other city can we complain about as much as we can literarily fellate? What other city can we so flawlessly compare to drugs, our heinous ex-girlfriend, or the afterlife? Where else could we so abusively misuse the word “existentialism?”

Nowhere, that’s where. Because, let me tell you, nothing exists when New York City does. Nowhere else would understand me, nowhere else could handle me. Where do I want to go to truly make it, to be the breakout star or the tortured artist who is just “weird” enough to sell a million copies? The place where millions of others are doing the same thing, that’s where. The place where my side job earns me just enough money for a closet in a crack den, that’s where. The place where I’ll be living off my parents until I’m thirty, that’s where.

I don’t even know what cities there are in America, honestly, other than my crown jewel of a stomping ground. What is there? Los Angeles? Right, like I would be caught dead in that sunny hell-hole. I prefer my people dead in the heart, not behind the eyes. Miami? No hablo espanol, senor. No, gracias. DC? Okay, let me go get my Brooks Brothers suits and pretend to care about things for a few minutes. Atlanta? I like cholesterol-laden food and Ludacris, too, y’all! Philadelphia? Chicago? Boston? I’m pretty sure those should all just merge into one big conglomerate, “Wishwecouldbenewyorkville. Opolis.” The truth is, there is not a single city that could contribute anything to my life or so viciously financially detract from it as the big Enn Why See. Although, I suppose I’ve always considered moving to Portlattle when I get a little older and want to afford a whole studio and get very into sustainable consumption. I hear the complaining is really good there.

The point is, we are completely defined by where we live. The city we inhabit becomes who we are in every conceivable way, and don’t you want to be defined by the city that Woody Allen devoted his daughter-marrying life to? Don’t you want to be where everything happens, where the people are so brutally, painfully interesting that every step outside your door becomes almost physically impossible not to blog about? I know I do. I can’t get enough of it. I need to breathe it in, to soak in it, to enjoy it so hard that my whole being shakes and I collapse on the platform of the L train, thinking about how tragically lucky I am to be Young In The City.

And don’t even get me started on the midwest–that place is nothing but fried cheese and sex offenders. TC mark

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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