1. The Friend Whose Life Is More Glamorous than Yours
You moved to East Williamsburg, or Prospect Heights, or some other fake neighborhood a scheming group of realtors made up in the name of gentrification. Meanwhile, he moved to Williamsburg proper. You’re proud of the handful of Tumblr followers you’ve accumulated over the months, while he’s got a group of regulars watching his band play bars on the Lower East Side, or a group of employees–you know, that work for him. You’ve never met any of the people who post on his Facebook, or any of the groupies at the aforementioned bars, or his employees, or how on earth he can keep track of all these connections–and you wonder where, exactly, you fit into that group.
You remember how Peter Pan gave those kids the ability to fly by sprinkling Tinkerbell’s fairy dust over them, and now and then you consider giving him a good shake in the hopes that some such dust will fall off of him and onto you. But after a couple of beers and a hardy “it’s been a while” hug, you remember that he’s a human, that he was dealt a different hand from your own, and that he’s not looking down at you. Even if he lives a high-rise.
2. The Burnout
They say the brightest flames burn the quickest. Anyone who’s ever bought one of those “magic snake” fireworks on the fourth of July knows otherwise.
Like the magic snake, the Burnout is a disappointment. By the time it’s lying on the sidewalk in a crumpled heap, you wonder why you ever formed any expectations for it in the first place.
The Burnout, like many others, probably came to New York expecting the city to change him or her for the better. Most people quickly realize that the city won’t lift a finger to change you; you have to change yourself. The Burnout never comes to this realization. Instead, the Burnout dives into dance club crowds in a desperate search for a treasure that doesn’t exist, and eventually drowns.
You wish the Burnout the best in front of the homeward-bound U-Haul (s/he really needs to “chill out” for a few months). But you also quietly hope your time with the Burnout has made you a little more discerning in your choice of friends.
3. The Working Girl
The Working Girl is always tired, whether physically–those heels, man–or mentally–because she “pretty much runs the whole fucking office for everyone,” as she’ll repeatedly remind you over wine. But you love her for that. (Especially after the Burnout.) If you’re students, she’ll be doubly tired, and Red Bull will likely play a part in your night of catching up.
The Working Girl’s unassuming background (typically Midwestern or something) belies her low bullshit tolerance. She just doesn’t have the time for that–which is why the hours she sets aside for you are some of the most gleefully efficient bonding experiences you’ve ever had. Hanging out with most of your other friends can often involve long stretches of stilted silence. Half-finished sentences trailing off over half-finished beers. This is not the case with the Working Girl. In a mere hour with her, you will have discussed your work situation, detailed which family members you do and don’t miss, and recounted your recent sexual frustrations, lifelong aspirations, poetic experiences on the D train, homesickness, and at least one instance of zen-like satisfaction with your entire life, all over wine at some pub in the Village. Because of her work schedule, these meetings can sometimes be rare; but they’re always just what you need.
4. The Bohemian
You could call the Bohemian elusive, but that would imply that they care enough to avoid being understood. Their perceived indifference is typically one of the following: A complacent trust that if you want to get to know them, you’ll chat them up (but you never see them when you’re in the mood to chat, because nine times out of ten they live in Bushwick); a genuinely indifferent sense of detachment stemming from either emotional damage or temporary life circumstances that preclude being a “people person” (all of which fuel their creativity, the honing of which is rarely as fun or carefree as it looks to outsiders); or, masterfully well-hidden insecurity. More often than not, the Bohemian is actually just the Glamorous Friend or the Working Girl, but with a different aesthetic gloss. The Bohemian isn’t some mythic figure set apart from the rat races of life; the Bohemian simply runs a different race from your own. Besides, sooner or later the trust fund money will run dry, and the Bohemian will have to go into graphic design, or marketing.
5. The Fauxhemian
This motherfucker has tapestries on every wall of his or her apartment. Half of them are handmade, while the other half are holdovers from a college dorm, much like the Christmas lights dangling above them.
The Fauxhemian is trying really hard. But you shouldn’t begrudge the Fauxhemian’s efforts, because when it comes down to it, you are, too. In time s/he will either make the full transition into the Bohemian lifestyle, or realize that it’s just not the right fit, and become a yuppie instead.
6. The Local
The Local was born and raised in one of the outer boroughs–close enough to Manhattan to have memorized its manic knot of activity, but far enough to avoid suffering the perpetual knot all Manhattanites have in their upper backs.
While difficult to keep up with at first–in both conversation and pedestrian traffic–the Local is remarkably patient. The constant roar of tires on asphalt, car horns, and conversation that dizzies most newcomers is to the Local what the sound of a river is to a Tibetan monk. If you meet one during or after college, chances are they’re still around because they never want to leave.
7. The Almost-Local
Born and raised in either Jersey or Long Island, the Almost-Local is desperate to leave their respective homes, which is why they’re in Manhattan as often as possible. The other borough can be a pain.
Almost-Locals will be in the midst of one of three phases by the time you meet them: Either they’re living or working in Jersey or LI, with the intent to get out; living in Jersey or LI, but working or going to school in “the city,” intending to move to Queens or Brooklyn someday; or, they’ve settled into NYC citizenship. But whatever the phase, Almost-Locals tend to have a conflicted relationship with the city. They often view their hometowns as entirely lifeless and devoid of interest, which is why they flock here on buses and trains.
But that can be a bitch of a commute. If they don’t have a friend to stay the night with, Jersey girls and guys will frequently find themselves braving the destitute steps of the Port Authority after a nighttime outing is cut short by a bus schedule curfew. (And always right before things “get crazy.”) Eventually they’ll question whether it’s worth it.
Many Almost-Locals come to the city because they’re not sure where else to go. It’s unlikely that you’ll meet one who’s found a proper alternative, as they’ll have moved there already.
8. The Friend Who Is Every Bit As Conflicted, Confused, And Hopeful About This City As You Are
Just in case it isn’t clear yet: The ever-growing canon of New York City sitcoms lied to you. If Friends and How I Met Your Mother gave you the idea that you and all your buddies are going to live within blocks of each other and spend your every waking moment hanging out, you should wipe that notion from your mind immediately. The characters in those shows spend maybe 20% of their runtime working and struggling to make ends meet, and 80% of it goofing around. In reality, the ratio is reversed, and very few people manage to line up that 20% with their friends’, between full-time work, part-time work, pet projects, errands, and all the commuting in between.
With all the people shuttling in and out of your life on a weekly basis, sometimes all you need is the one friend who’s always on the same page as you. It can be easy to forget about that friend–maybe because that friend is so similar to you that his or her familiar traits don’t stick out in your mind like the sitcom-grade strangers you’ve met.
It’ll happen after five or six text messages — five or six what-are-you-up-to-tonights that either get lost in the void, or come back cold. You’ll scroll through your contacts and slap your forehead, cartoon-like, after you see that friend’s name and wonder why you didn’t seek it before all the others.
This friend is always broke when you’re broke, which reminds you that it’s entirely okay to have a night in now and then — even here. Those are the nights that will allow both of you to make sense of everything that’s happened since you last hung out. And it will definitely be more interesting than any of those sitcoms.