Living In Manhattan Versus Brooklyn

Every day I wear a scarlet letter on my chest and it’s “M” for “{I live in) Manhattan.” Whenever someone asks me where I live, I feign a coughing fit and say “East Village” in between severe wheezing. To those of you who don’t understand why living in Manhattan would ever be considered shameful, I’ll tell you. Even though rents in neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Brooklyn Heights can be just as high as the rents in Manhattan, living in a neighborhood like the East Village is seen as an instant signifier of class and, in a way, elitism. People judge and think you’re a clueless diva who refuses to go to Brooklyn on some misguided principle. This might be true for some. Manhattan is overrun by NYU trustafarians, people who come from the richest families in lame places like Arizona and Iowa, soulless bankers, and old people. It’s basically a borough comprised of rich uncool people. Even indie celebs who can afford a sprawling apartment in Manhattan decide to move to Brooklyn because the culture is perceived as being more vibrant and young. In many ways, they’re right. In the past three and a half years I’ve lived in Manhattan, I’ve noticed it lacking a certain kind of energy and youthfulness that exists in Brooklyn. By the way, I should mention that I go to Brooklyn a lot. Only three of my friends live in Manhattan and the rest live in places like Bushwick, Park Slope, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg. Every time I get on the L train, I think to myself, “Most of my life is in Brooklyn. Why don’t I just live there?”

I stay in Manhattan because I’m weird. Since I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed living in neighborhoods that I don’t go out in. I like being separate from the “Drunk Me” who’s going to bars and getting his rocks off. I don’t want to walk outside my door and be faced with the mistakes of last night. I don’t really go out in Manhattan. I go to wherever my friends are in Brooklyn and even though I get annoyed by the commute, I like being the solo star who’s going back to the East Village at the end of the night. And to be honest, I am kind of obsessed with Manhattan’s vibe. As alive as Brooklyn is, it still shuts down at the end of the night. I need the sirens and the constant noise outside my window to lull me to sleep. Like I said, I’m weird.

It’s odd to think of Manhattan as dead. It’s not nor will it ever be. But it has undergone some changes in the past fifteen years. My stepmother lived here in the eighties and told me that no one went below 14th street because it was too dangerous. Today it is the exact opposite. Going above 14th street means you’re entering a boring world full of strollers and couture. Sick!

One day I will move to Brooklyn. One day I will tire of paying obscene amounts of money for a small apartment with no oven. I will join all of my friends on the other side of the bridge and I will be oh so very happy. But that day is not today. Today I live in Manhattan. Today I rip the scarlet letter off and live free of shame! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Salim Virjl

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