Living in New York City decidedly brainwashes you. Sure there’s amazing opportunity here, that skyline at dusk will always bring a pitter patter to your heart, and you won’t find another single place in America that boasts the variety New York has – but let’s be honest. You have to put up with a lot of bullshit. Literally sometimes – we’ve all seen poop in the subway. Even the most seasoned New Yorkers have a love-hate relationship with this place.
The sordid smell of garbage wafts through the air waiting to bombard you at the most unanticipated moment. People are rude – not because we’re assholes. There’s just too many freaking people and we can’t possibly be nice to every stranger. Especially when they’re in our way. When I leave the city, I physically feel my nervous system slacken. The energetic sphere of this island is always buzzing and whether or not you’re aware, you’re absorbing it. Whenever you are excited about an event, it’s likely the lines will be long, the view from your seat will suck, the temperature will be too hot or too cold, and it will cost you an arm and a leg. You can forget toppings on your hotdog. But we keep doing it! And we even convince ourselves that we like it! Because magical moments happen, and like a drug, we want more of them.
I hear from out of state relatives and friends, “I couldn’t do that, I don’t know how you do it!” And honestly, I don’t either. I guess I just do. It was never the plan to raise a family in New York City. It’s still not really the plan – I’m assuming we’ll get kicked out of this place sooner or later. I really thought it would happen long before now. But here we are.
Anyone who knows me even in passing – knows that I had a really rough transition to living here. You could say we had a rocky start. It’s gotten immeasurably better – but I’m still fantasizing about a slower paced life one day. I forget what it’s like to drive to Target to buy your home goods and park right away and not fight elbow to elbow with fellow customers and drive home right up to your doorstep.
When we first moved here, we had no friends, no jobs, and no apartment. We moved with a car full of stuff and a healthy dose of naivety. That’s ok. What else are you supposed to do as a 23 year old newlywed? Now we have a beautiful little girl, good jobs, a pretty nice apartment, and a whole community of support and friends. The thought of starting over somewhere is overwhelmingly daunting. But people do it, why would we be any exception? You know how the saying goes, if you can make it here….
But this place does stuff to you. In wonderful ways, in challenging ways, and even in dark ways sometimes. Some days, like when it takes over an hour to find a parking spot and I have a screaming toddler in the back and I’m carrying 17 bags 5 blocks to my apartment, because that was the closest parking spot I could find, from one simple trip to the pool, I ask myself “How much longer do you want to do this?”
I don’t know why I’m sharing this. I guess to say that yes, New York is wonderful and wild and exciting. And even though I’ve learned to handle many challenges with grace and we’ve come a loong way, it’s not a picnic. I used to think money solved all the problems. It helps, but it’s not a cure all. When we first moved here, I wanted so badly to get out. Three years later, I’m scared to leave and kind of scared to stay.
So when people ask me if we plan to stay here, I never know what to say. No? Maybe? It’s complicated? I’m grateful for the growth I’ve experienced during my time here. I’m even more grateful for the wonderful people my life has been opened up to. The memories and experiences and opportunities are irreplaceable. But I could get a much better quality of life somewhere else. And until then….I’ll just take advantage of the good things this concrete jungle offers. The crazy part is I will probably miss it one day.