Today is my 10 year anniversary in New York City. Supposedly, that’s how long it takes you to become an official “New Yorker.” But I don’t agree with that.
A decade ago my sister and I packed up a Honda Civic, made sure our CD case was stocked, and drove 1,000 miles to the Big Apple. I’d never seen an EZPass lane, so imagine our screams of panic as we got stuck on the New Jersey turnpike. I (wrongly) assumed everyone from New Jersey was a mobster, so I was just waiting for a Tony Soprano lookalike from the stalled car behind us to come bust our chops.
Ever since that moment, New york has been a series of lessons. I’ve made small mistakes, like thinking the N train and the Q train were the same thing. And I’ve had big trials, like the time the economy tanked, my B.A. meant shit, and I had to work at the Times Square Hershey’s store wearing a giant candy hat.
Yet somehow 10 years later I’m still here. My best friend was born and raised here, and she claims that I’m the most “New York” person she knows, that I could never leave.
So what makes someone a true New Yorker? ← It’s not writing Carrie Bradshaw like questions, no. And not years spent here. I think it’s certain habits that you develop. And I’m not talking about easy stuff, like don’t invest too much in an umbrella because it will either be destroyed by intense wind or you’ll leave it at a spin class studio. I’m talking about rarely talked about philosophies and methods. Stuff like…
1. You don’t think apartments are small anymore.
You take your out-of-town friend to a party, and they always say, “This apartment is so tiny,” but you didn’t even notice. You’re so distracted by the genius of the murphy bed freeing up extra floor space. Similarly, you’ve forgotten that dishwashers exist.
2. You don’t date someone new to New York City.
Recent transplants are like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory – too overwhelmed with options. They’re focused on trying to find their group of friends and learn how to actually live in this crazy town. You know you’d likely part of their experimentation process, so you stay away.
3. You take the bus.
Ultimately, you’ll know you’ve mastered it when you realize the bus is only useful for going places you absolutely and positively cannot walk or subway to.
4. You accept that things won’t be efficient here.
Yes, you DO deserve to get better service because you’re paying so much for [insert any service here]. But this is New York, so you won’t. You’ve accepted this, and now your life is way less stressful.
5. Just because you aren’t driving doesn’t mean you have to get wasted every weekend.
You spent the first 5…no, 8 years in New York City drinking more than your body weight. Then there came a point where you no longer let people give you shit for ordering a Sprite.
6. You don’t run for the train.
The person you’re meeting is probably going to be late anyway. It’s not worth the extra effort…unless it’s the late night schedule. Then you forgo this rule.
7. You talk differently.
One day on the phone your mom tells you to slow down, you talk too fast. And then you start to notice that you’ve lost your standard American accent. Mary, merry, and marry don’t have the same pronunciation anymore.
8. You’re sad to see homeless people.
At first you’re shocked by our city’s large population. Then, you have a few bad experiences that make you jaded or even hateful. But eventually, you realize the complexity of the issue, and you feel compassion. How you donate your money or your time to solving this cause, though, is different for every New Yorker.
9. You’ve thrown up in a cab.
This is gross, but it must be on this list because it is a rite of passage. Whether you were sick or you drank too much (see #5), this experience prepares you for equally humiliating public experiences that are inevitable in this crowded city.
10. You call New York home.
Recent transplants think of New York as a place that they choose to live in but could leave whenever they feel like it. Real New Yorkers think of the city like a true home. It’s not a place you choose to live in, but rather it’s a part of who you are.
There should be a special term for people who embody these traits. A way to describe us so when someone asks, “Where are you from?” we don’t have to say, “Well, I’m originally from [mid-size city clarifying the suburb you’re from], but I’ve been here over 10 years.” Rooted New Yorker doesn’t seem strong enough. And we deserve a strong name in return for all we’ve given New York. We deserve that.