This summer, I decided to take the “apple a day” riddle quite literally and packed up my bags for the concrete jungle where dreams are made oh there’s nothing you can’t do, ya know.
“A summer in New York!? Are you nervous?” they asked. “No, of course I’m not nervous! I’ve already been there so many times,” I said.
To clarify, “been there so many times”actually just means “I have been there five times to see Broadway shows with my parents or on class trips and then returned to my hotel by maybe 11PM at the latest because one time I was stranded outside of a horror-movie-esque convenient mart in Jersey for 2 hours and although literally nothing bad happened and I just missed the bus, I was nervous it would happen again so yeah in bed by 11PM.
Okay so yes, I moved to New York City. I was the littlest fish in the biggest of ponds. I was the littlest of fish trying to excel in a fashion marketing internship even though I’m a journalism major and the littlest of fish trying to make it through a Starbucks line without losing a fin in the biggest of ponds filled with overpriced croissants and people that are dressed in raggedy Elmo costumes trying to hug you.
Let that image simmer in your heads for a minute. To be fair, raggedy Elmo only wants to hug you if you pay him a dollar. That may seem strange to you but what is even stranger is that people actually do it. Frequently.
As I write this, I am now two months into my summer in New York. I am no longer considered a tourist based off of Urban dictionary standards. I walk at a brisk speed. I say things like “Take the A-C-E uptown or take the R to 8th street-NYU in the Village” with the audible grace of off-brand Benedict Cumberbatch. I drink a lot of coffee. I…still quote Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys a lot…but I’m actively working on cutting back.
It’s been a summer of adventures, a summer of Instagram-ming my brunch, a summer of falling in love with shoes and not the boys on Bumble, and most importantly, a summer of creating an identity for myself in a land of 8.5 million residents. As the saying goes, anything can happen in a New York minute.
Here are some of the top lessons I have learned during My New York Times.
1. On a scale of chilly to hot, NYC’s temperature feels like you are wearing a pantsuit drinking a latte inside of a sauna. I quickly trot to work which is on Broadway and yes at first it seems glamorous but then after two days you realize that you very well may lose a limb amidst the crowd if you’re not careful except one day I saw Heidi Klum and risked losing a limb and in that moment yeah it was okay. Anyway, after my trot to my building I then hop into our building’s elevator with at least 12 other suited businesspeople. They all stare ahead pretending not to openly pant like pups all the while ignoring the fact that we are all profusely sweating. I just want to shout out and say, “I WISH THESE THINGS CAME WITH POPSICLES”, but instead I just stand quietly and pretend to look up stocks on my phone like everyone else. I often wonder if everyone is actually looking up stocks or if we’re all just pretending to do it. So, I quickly learned to dress in layers. And drink lots of aqua. Or at least take pics by it.
2. If America was a play, NYC would have the most characters. There are the heroes of Fresh & Co who can make a salad in 2 seconds. There are the villains of Dunkin Donuts who steal your drink order. There are those who sit in the middle of the park wearing tiki skirts and Christmas sweaters singing at the top of their lungs to Nickelback. And in a single hour in NYC you very well may see all three. They are bold and confident and quirky and unique and independent and it all just works. They live out loud and that’s pretty freakin awesome.
3. Going off of that, the people here are really not as cold as everyone may think. I have met some of the kindest people I know while here in the city. One night, I was walking in Chelsea, and an elderly woman behind me tripped and fell to the ground. After I heard the fall, I turned around and saw an elderly man stop and help her up. I heard him ask her where she lived, took her hand, and walked away. I immediately took a picture because I thought to myself, “THIS IS SO CUTE.” But then I was like, “Wait no, no no no, this is bad. I’ve seen the movies. I’ve watched half an episode of Cops!!! I need to follow them and save her.” So, I followed swiftly behind for maybe ten minutes. He led her to what appeared to be the steps of a nursing home. Opened the door. Talked to the nurse standing in the doorway. Kissed the elderly woman’s hand. And walked away. And it was the cutest thing. I. had. ever. seen. People are really good. People will surprise you.
4. The food…. I CAN’T EVEN TYPE THIS SENTENCE OUT REGULARLY because the food is so good. Seriously, the best food exists in New York, I truly believe that wholeheartedly. First of all, it’s pretty. They add one tiny green leaf to tiramisu and suddenly it looks like a majestic still life portrait. Also, everything tastes BOMB. One time I took a bite of a frittata at Sarabeth’s in uptown and had a tear in my eye because I had never tasted such great eggs. And then I teared up some more due to the fact that I was tearing up over eggs but I wanted to shout out to everyone in the restaurant and say THIS IS AMAZING WHAT A LIFE. There is ice cream here that is shaped like flowers. There are rainbow bagels. There is PIZZA EVERYWHERE. Eat it all and then hug raggedy Elm because you are just that happy.
5. “If I can make it here, I’ll make it anywhere” sang the sweet serenade of Sinatra. I, like many people, romanticized the idea of living in NYC. I imagined myself as a brunette version of Sarah Jessica Parker floating down the streets in a hoop skirt with coffee in hand, feeding cute birds and high-fiving all the happy people. But here’s the thing. At first, NYC has all the tender sweetness OF A CRANKY SQUIRREL. The coffee will be spilling down your dress and the birds will be terrifying and the only people wanting to high five you are trying to sell you bubbles out of their stolen van.
But…here is the great thing. NYC will shape you into a stronger, more independent, more resilient person. Because in those moments when you are ready to just pack up your bags for suburbia, never to return again, you will be congratulated by your boss for all your hard work and she will send you a smiley face via email and you will be so hyped up about it that you will take a screenshot of it to send to your family. Or you will meet someone who hangs encouraging love notes all over the city just to brighten a stranger’s day. Or you will stand on a rooftop balcony near Central Park overlooking the city and wonder if any view exists that could truly be more spectacular. And in those moments you will be thankful you came. And you will be thankful- so, so very thankful- you stayed.
I will be missing you New York. I ended up loving you after all. Thank you for the memories, you crazy wonderful city.
It’s not goodbye, it’s NY-C-you later 🙂 Cheesy, yes, but you do have the best cheese pizza eva.