The city taught me a lot in that first week. Frankly I'm embarrassed to think how much I did not know, most of my "experience" having been shaped by TV shows (You know the ones...) and my time spent there as a tourist. To live here is an entirely different beast, but not one that is ultimately beastly in nature. In fact, there is real beauty to this beast.
In October of 2015, just under a month into my time here, I drafted a list: "First Impressions of New York City." Just for fun, I thought I'd revist that list to see if my opinions on the matters had changed at all, or if I had any new insights about them. Without further ado, here they are again:
(1) When you walk down Madison Avenue, you are almost guaranteed to see most beautiful man and/or woman you have ever seen. Five. Times. Over.
Yes, it's true that just about everyone looks good in a suit. I've caught myself admiring men older than my father on the subway for the simple fact they've had 60 years of tumbling around this city to convert their rough, rocky imperfections into the perfectly-polished characteristics of a Silver Fox.
That said, there are attractive people all over this city, and pending my daily preference I could just as easily fall in love with someone shopping in Soho as commuting through Harlem.
In other news, I think it's safe to say I've never found myself at the intersection of Madison and 55th during lunchtime since then.
(2) The best time to go to Trader Joe's (the one on 73rd, at least) is on Friday at 1:30pm.
First off, Trader Joe's is located on 72nd, not 73rd (YOU FOOL.) I still stand by this observation, but I will amend it to say that virtually any weekday between 1:30 and 3:30p is probably a safe bet.
Unless you're visiting the 23rd St location. Here, I've found, there is no "good time."
(3) The majority of people here are helpful, encouraging, and pleasant conversationalists (at heart.)
THIS. Of all the points I made here, this is the one I stand by the most.
I had the fortune of visiting Seattle this past summer with fresh eyes (in both a figurative and literal sense, because the air over there is so goddamn wonderfully clear...) From unsolicited conversations with various apron-clad Pollyannas to looking around empty streets and wondering "Where are all the people??" I experienced culture-shock within my own country. As Planned Parenthood petitioners greeted me at twenty-stride distances away and a store owner regaled me with her (quite intimate) shared custody dramas, I thought perhaps I'd misjudged Seattle: the only freeze to be found around here was the icy deliciousness of Molly Moon, beguiling me at every corner.
With a friend, I went browsing through a certain department store I will preserve the reputation of by not naming (though I will say Manhattan's set to get one by 2018 and it may or may not rhyme with "Smorsdrom." We were looking for bras -- and that's all we were doing. Looking for them, finding them, "ehmagawd-cuuuuuute-ing" over them, and moving on. I know store employees probably hate this. I know many salespeople work on commission. I know Seattle is a cruel, cruel place where women would rather bind themselves in North Face polar fleeces than lay down cash to hoist their ladies into the (albeit shrouded in a thick layer of raincloud) sun.
I also know my rights as a shopper, as an aspiring minimalist, as a generally polite person, and as someone who speaks their mind. I wasn't going to buy a bra that day. I would happily take a fitting, thank you. Yes, I will gladly consider the bras you bring me. And yes, I still reserve the right not to make a purchase despite your thoughtful suggestions. Dear sales-chick who decided customer-service manners ended when you realized you couldn't bully me into making a purchase, who casually insulted the bustier I'd walked in wearing, who passive-aggressively clicked your tongue and told me I "did my best" when reorganizing the bras you yourself insisted I try on (but which, no, in fact, I still didn't want to buy from you): YOU ARE THE REASON. You are the reason Seattle (and perhaps the larger west coast) has earned a reputation of negative uncommunicative nonsensery. I could not deal with this shit when I lived there, and I sure as hell can't put up with it now. I AM NEW YORKER, HEAR ME ROAR.
(I know, I know I'm not yet. But give me this one.)
In contrast, I walked into the Union Square 'Rack today to run an errand for my boyfriend. When an saleswoman approached me, I told her what I was looking for. She guided me to the options, asked if I needed anything else, then left me to it. She didn't even tell me her name. It was heaven.
(4) The more time you spend in midtown, the more you feel entitled to the life of a well-paid lawyer.
Again, I'd amend the location beyond 5th Avenue and Soho (is this really all I knew of the city back then??) but, sadly, yes; I have become the kind of woman whose eyes pop when she unearths Manolo Blaniks at thrift shops and who spends her commuting hours carefully studying designer handbags so she'll be ready when her match hits Ebay. Bless me, father, for I have sinned...
I mean... who needs nature, really....? ;)
I love you, New York.
I'm so happy to call myself a part of your twisted, grid-locked, garbage-scented, honk-if-you-love-no-one chaos.
And cheers to many more.