You stumble out of the most ignorant and inappropriate cab ride ever with three friends. You’re in Time Square, which is weird because you had no idea that’s where the cab was taking you.
One friend wants a picture taken. On Broadway. Another friend sits down in the middle of the street to take it. You have no idea why he sat down but he did.
The other two of you jump in for a picture. It’s taken, the light turns green and the four of you rush back to the sidewalk.
It’s 3am in Time Square on a Saturday night. You don’t know it but one of the cooler pictures that has ever been taken of you was just snapped. You won’t know about it until the next day.
After an hour inside of some random bar, the night is ending. Two of the friends head West while you and the other head downtown, looking for pizza. It’s 4am, but there will be pizza.
Except, there isn’t.
You end up at a street cart, eating sausage with peppers and onions. And a pretzel. It’s the best meal you’ve had in years. At least, that’s how it tastes in the moment.
You eat while standing in a mostly empty Time Square. For every “New Yorker” that tells you never to go to Time Square, they’re right, most of the time.
But they probably haven’t been there at 4am. At 4am, Time Square is amazing. It’s as bright as day and it’s as over the top as always. But you have it to yourself.
You get in the cab to go home. Text one friend to make sure he got a cab. Text another to make sure he got the fourth friend home in one piece. 10 minutes later, you jump out in the Lower East Side, typically a loud and messy place on a Saturday night but this night, you’ve outlasted them. It’s almost 5am now and even the LES is mostly empty. Well, besides the rats.
Nothing exceptional happened this night (except that picture), which is what makes it such a cool experience. You lived New York.
Living in The City makes you suspend almost all of your beliefs. It can’t be a problem to pay for an $8 beer or a $14 mixed drink. You don’t even blink at a dinner tab running into triple digits when you didn’t even eat that much. Movies are expensive, traffic is atrocious, the one-way streets downtown make no sense, the Subway mostly sucks and the weather is miserable for 9 of the 12 months each year.
But then you go out on Saturday night with some friends and you see Time Square at 4am. Or you go to a Brooklyn house party with an amazing rooftop view of The City. Or you drive an hour and hit the beach in the summer. Or drive an hour and get to an awesome ski resort in the winter (not that I ski). Or happy hour happens. Or brunch.
You deal with what sucks about New York because there is no place in the World that has better cool stuff. The lows are low but the highs are so incredibly high.
SoHo on a Saturday? You’re out of your mind.
SoHo on a Tuesday? Amazing.
People visit me in New York and wonder how I deal with it all. Why deal with the prices and the people and the commuting and the dirty streets and the prices. Why do it?
It’s not for everyone I tell them. You have to lie to yourself a lot about what is normal.
But I do it.
You can’t really explain it with words. You could try but it won’t make any sense. You have to show them.
Bring someone to Times Square at 4 in the morning and tell them, this is why I do it.