NYC: Might Just Be For Me
Whenever people ask me where I want to work after graduation, I usually reply with the same answer:
“Maybe Chicago,” I say.
“Or Boston. D.C. is nice. But I definitely don’t want to live in New York City.”
New York is too dirty, too crowded, too expensive, too loud. It’s too cramped. It’s too busy. It’s overwhelming.
A few weekends ago, I hopped on a Megabus from Boston and traveled four hours to New York City to visit a friend, who we’ll call H. Stepping off the bus around 8PM to meet her, I was eager to get something to eat – and a quick Yelp search on my phone revealed more than 100 restaurants within a few miles of our location.
For the first time, I thought:
I think I’m going to like it here.
We settled on Sri Lankan food. I don’t even think I could point to Sri Lanka on a map. I’m shocked that I even spelled it right. Yet there it was – as authentic as the banana leaves our entrees were served in – just a few steps from the bus stop.
What’s more, the restaurant didn’t have a liquor license – instead, it was BYOB. There’s something very odd about cracking open a Bud Light can straight from the cardboard carton before your waiter even takes your order…
But I think I could get used to it.
It was my first visit to the city since my sophomore year of college, when I’d stayed with a friend for a few days in the suburbs. Sure, I’d visited New York as a kid to see the Statue of Liberty and brave E. coli at some street-side hot dog stands, but hitting up Brooklyn as a grown-up promised to be a whole new experience.
After dinner, we stopped by H’s apartment to drop off my bag. “Apartment” is a generous term for the place where H lives, but there is something very cozy about her two-bedroom storage closet. Maybe it was the cute candles, the artwork on the walls, the fact that she’s got Hulu Plus or the comfy couches she’s set up in the common area. Maybe it was the charming way the wheeled coffee table slowly rolled into a corner of the room as the day progressed – thanks to a not-so-subtly sloping floor.
Whatever it was, I loved H’s tiny apartment.
“Do you like living here?” I asked, suddenly wondering if I might want to move to the big city after all.
She thought for a second.
“Yes, I do. But New York is all about managing expectations.”
She returned the little wheeled table to the center of the room from the corner it had drifted into.
“But if you go into it knowing that, then you’ll have the time of your life here. Also, there are a lot of delis.”
She knows me well.
Sometime between the awesome bars we went to that weekend (one that seemingly played nothing but Robyn songs and another that was literally a Viking hall complete with long, wooden tables, comically enormous steins and a fire pit roasting bratwursts), the amount of food we ate (including a 4AM trip to a place called Chicken Palace, where a pigeon got trapped during our visit and we half-expected the staff to catch it, batter it, deep fry it and serve it to us), and a walk down Fifth Avenue past stores I’ll probably never be able to afford (especially if I move to New York), I started to fall for the city.
New York is not for everybody.
The apartments are small and expensive, the streets are as busy at the crack of dawn as they are at noon, and you better be prepared to pay $12 in cash for a bagel and some chips at the local sandwich shop.
I thought I’d never want to deal with those sorts of hassles – but when you can hang out with strangers ‘til the wee hours at a re-created Scandinavian drinking hall so historically accurate that it’s lit only by candles, it might just be worth it.
New York’s got it’s own charm.
A unique charm, to be sure.
But a charm that I liked more than I ever planned to.
Waiting for the Megabus at some random, dirty, crowded, cramped, busy, overwhelming corner, I looked up at the Manhattan skyline and thought:
I think I could live here.
I think I might even want to live here.
Guess I’ll have to change my answer when people ask me where I plan to go after graduation.
- by AWSC
- posted at 12:58 pm
- July 2, 2012