People talk about NYC like:
It’s something everybody, everywhere, must absolutely try. As if we’re all at some table-clothed fancy dinner table where a man in fresh-pressed dress pants and white-button down shirt glides around with a bread basket and asks if we’d like to try the house special tonight.
And a lady at our table stands up and says “Oh you just have to give it a try! You absolutely cannot spend another minute of your delicate little life without tasting some good old New York City!”
People always tell other people that they need to visit, or live, or fall chaotically and madly in love with this place. And I wonder, often, why everyone has to look at this place like it’s something they can slice a piece off with their knives and pick it up with their forks and swoosh it around their parched mouths for a bit before deciding if they should swallow it or wash it down with a $1.50 soda from a street vendor on 42nd street.
People talk about New York City like it’s a playground.
Like they want to come here and climb on the buildings and take pictures with the statues – who are sometimes real people: the men in their firefighter or police uniforms, the humans who walk around here in neon plush leather and fishnet shorts or the ones who just don’t care, anymore: they can be seen in their tightie whities.
Like it’s some frilly new boyfriend…
… who will shower you with endless surprise compliments and dozens upon dozens of red roses and weekend adventures that make you think – as he stops to kiss you underneath a giant banyan tree with branches that flail their arms in Central Park – that you could spent the rest of your life here – now. That you could sell everything you own, pack up the essentials and come here and live in this moment until you are old and gray and wrinkly and this person, this place, this thing will still love you exactly and as delicately as they do in this very moment.
Like it’s filled with magic.
As if they can just hop off their JetBlue flight and step foot in the center of Herald Square and be showered with parades and precious umbrella-less weather – and of course, opportunities. But they are wrong. They are so completely wrong. NYC, like any place else, won’t give you what you don’t work for. You can’t come here and sit back and relax and expect anything to happen. Magic, here too, needs to be created.
People talk about New York City like it’s the only place where their dreams matter.
Like if they have something that’s been growing inside of them – some idea or career – that their only shot is to come here and make it happen. I say: don’t rush here. Spend time going anywhere – everywhere else first – before locking yourself in a 12-month lease in an apartment the size of your parent’s guest bathroom. Or do.
Graduate college and book a one-way ticket to NYC. Have no idea what you want to do or be or see or love and come here. But then, be ready to be tossed around like a pair of shoes in an empty washing machine. Be prepared to leave here never ever the same.
When people ask me “How much longer are you going to be in NYC for?” It’s as if they are asking me how much longer I’m going to be at the beach or eating a bagel at Joe’s deli on a Saturday morning.. As if this place is only something I flirt with or need to get out of my system like a 24-hour stomach bug.
The people are swaying by me on 7th avenue and the yellow taxi cabs are galloping down the lanes and I smell coffee, no I smell the wafting hint of preserved garbage, no I smell fresh Indian food, no I smell the overuse of a bottle of perfume. There are some mornings (like this morning) when I think I could spend the rest of my life here.
People talk about New York City like…like…like.
You know what I say?
I say: let them talk.