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.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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  • Anonymous

    started reading and got worried article wouldn’t be about NYC

    my heart’s still pounding 

    • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

      Don’t think you’ll ever legitimately need to worry about that around here. :)

    • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

      Don’t think you’ll ever legitimately need to worry about that around here. :)

    • Asdf

      Best comment ever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    frederick jackson turner theorized, as one goes farther west, the more american it becomes. 

  • Woyzeck

    Wait, there’s a New York now? Huh.

  • http://twitter.com/YanZhitui Yan Zhitui

    “New York is an expensive place.”
    “New York is the only place.”

  • Michael

    Thought Catalog=New York

    but Chicago is better

    • Rachel


    • carmelo

      how is chicago better? what is living in chicago like? i’m honestly curious

  • Aaron

    what a surprise!!  It is about NYC!!

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure how a city as large and as populous as NYC can be filled with so many people that thinks the world revolves around themselves. If I felt like I was defined by where I live I’d be one depressed individual.

    • Aaron

      I agree.  I met a New Yorker  (he turned out to be from New Jersey) a couple of weeks ago and he said to me “i ve traveled around the world and i tell ya, there is no other place like NY”.  When I asked him where he had been to in Europe, he said “London and Paris”.  It says ‘t all.   It is really sad.  Thank God I am the proud son of a satellite city.

  • Janga

    I’m loving the satire, this is hilarious and very well done.

  • Anonymous

    as someone who lives in Brooklyn — Bushwick, to be specific — I hate people whose sense of identity comes from whatever city or neighborhood they happen to live in

    • chris

      bushwick is scary man :-( 

      • Natalie

        Bushwick is nice now! I go to school there and there are so many hipster shops there.

  • Kennneth Gibson




  • http://www.facebook.com/al.n.jay Al N Jay

    whateva bitch, you probably grew up in fucking nebraska.

  • Anonymous

    ha this is brilliant. 

  • Upstate, the other New York

    This is the most self/city-absorbed thing I have ever read. Oft-forgotten? Are you kidding? New York is the one city that people think of when using the word “city.” See: “I’m from the city.” If you were truly content with being defined by your surroundings, and I mean truly content, you would not feel the need to qualify it on a blog (everyday). The reason that some people never leave New York is not because they can’t stand other people, it is because other people can’t stand them.

    • Fjijfbs

      I’m gonna stop you right there and politely request that you read the definition for sarcasm, and then try again. Then you may re-comment. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

    • Brandon


  • padface

    So do people not get that this is satire?

    Wow I guess Americans really just don’t get sarcasm!

  • http://twitter.com/mung_beans 371747

    soooo is the point that you’re really cool because you moved to Paris as a young person instead of NYC?  

    • http://twitter.com/mung_beans 371747

      I get this, though.  Fuck New York.  

  • Harmony Korine

    HOW MANY TIMES CAN THIS BULLSHIT WEBSITE PUBLISH HIPSTER/NEW YORK BASHING GARBAGE? Get over it. Thought Catalog makes Vice look like academia.

    • Anonymous

      gonna use this comment on my resume, thanks

  • http://BlueShame.com Lady Blue

    I *love* New York but this was damn good. Chelsea, I don’t know if you’ve ever lived/visited/spent time in New York City or this was completely derived from other people’s experiences, but it was on point.

  • danielle

    majority of tc writers are from/reside in new york..are they not allowed to write about their communities?
    also, your sarcastic rant just continued the eternal discussion of new york city that you apparently dislike so much.. 

  • Hpfan45

    new york is wonderful but it isn’t the only place in the world. you sound a ignorant if you think philly, LA, atlanta, etc have nothing to offer besides their stereotypes. in that case all we (new york) have to offer are bagels and pizza. by the way, i’m from new york and think other cities contribute a hell lot. 

  • Hpfan45

    new york is wonderful but it isn’t the only place in the world. you sound a ignorant if you think philly, LA, atlanta, etc have nothing to offer besides their stereotypes. in that case all we (new york) have to offer are bagels and pizza. by the way, i’m from new york and think other cities contribute a hell lot. 

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