There tend to be a lot of misconceptions surrounding what life is like in any major city – especially, New York. Here are a few of the negatives and why they’re really not so bad, after all.
Having to walk everywhere
The average New Yorker walks anywhere from two to five miles a day. Walk to work across town? That’s 2.8 miles round trip. Need to pick up some groceries at Amish Market? Add another .5. Stroll to happy hour and stagger home? Depending on your martini-induced sense of direction, you could work your way up to a 10k in a single day. Here in New York, we walk farther and faster than most people on planet earth – and according to a NY Mag article, it leads to greater longevity. According to Streetsblog, it leads to less mental stress. And according to me, it leads to a pleasantly extended form of collegiate life.
Naturally, there are times when walking isn’t the most enjoyable mode of transportation. Showing up at work in the summer months accompanied by lower back sweat isn’t a cute look. Showing up at work in the dead of winter in what is essentially a dog-sledding jacket? Also not [necessarily] so cute. But, compare this with the woes of LA and DC’s traffic or the mega commutes from surrounding suburbs, and suddenly our morning strolls don’t seem too shabby. Personally, walking around the city feels reminiscent of my days at UMD spent bustling across campus or flailing to the bar just in time to make it in without paying cover. Walking in NYC lends itself to a lifestyle where you, Mila Kunis and a homeless man might all share the same sidewalk square, even if it is for just a moment; where a simple turn round-the-bend can reveal an inadvertent adventure; where everyone can make it to happy hour and everyone can have a drink and no one has to drive. Now, what could be more glorious than that!?
It’s SO damn loud
New York can be loud. I’m talking 90-decibels-at-6AM-even-though-you-live-on-the-16th-floor loud. What with the constant barrage of traffic, wandering throngs of tourists and its own residents living hundreds of feet high on top of one another, “quiet time” can be a difficult thing to come across. But you know what is great about the loudness? If you take a moment to listen in, you learn that it’s not all just noise. Our cranked-up volume is a culture. Or, perhaps more specifically, it is many cultures. 800 languages are whispered and bellowed through our city streets each day, altogether forming a sometimes melodic and sometimes deafening tune, but one that we have come to find comforting, nonetheless.
Along with the round-the-clock loudness also comes round-the-clock living in various pockets of the city. In Manhattan, 10 PM sit-down dinners are the norm. Gyms and corner bodegas always have a patron or two inside at any given moment. The subway just keeps growing and growing. And, every New Yorker’s most reliable friend, Duane Reade, wouldn’t dare close its doors on us. At the end of the day, there is just nothing quite like stepping out of Dark Room in the Lower East Side at 4AM only to find hundreds of other party-goers in the streets, the iconic police-on-horseback clonking down Ludlow, and blocks of cabs at your disposal (even if, every so often, one exploits you in your intoxicated state and charges you an exorbitant fee to go uptown.)
There’s so little green space!
In New York, the leaves changing colors is not a city-wide event in the fall. The sound of the birds chirping is not the anthem of the spring. However, the stark contrast of one season to the next is felt so wholly and so differently than anywhere else. It’s as if, in exchange for the lack of greenery, every other sense of the seasons is heightened to an extreme.
For instance: all New Yorkers, please raise your hand if you cannot wait for fall… see that!? I did. And everyone raised their hand.
Fall is the locals’ summer. It’s not simply the pumpkin spiced lattes or sweater weather that we look forward to, though we indeed love those things too. But, that exists in the rest of the Northeast, as well. It’s the complete lifestyle change. I mean, summer can be stressful! Of course it’s fun-filled and exciting, but traversing the city heat and making weekend trips to escape said heat for 2 months straight can get tiring. This is how we feel the change of seasons in New York – in the thinning or thickening of the crowds, in our undulating social calendars, in the alternating culinary options from our beloved street carts. Granted, most places experience the changing of the seasons in a multi-dimensional manner. However, the ways in which New Yorkers feel the differences are as powerful and unique as the people themselves. In a city so loud and fast, we actually become chronically in sync with the more subtle aspects of life. We come to exist on the nuanced crest of the wavelength of change, edging forward slightly faster than the rest – just as we always have.