On Loving the Struggle of New York City
The struggle began before I arrived.
It was 2:00 a.m. when I landed at LaGuardia airport, 10 hours later than what was printed on my flight itinerary. Severe storms — high wind, heavy rain — had swept through the Northeast earlier in the day and delayed several incoming and outbound flights. I was stuck in Philadelphia (or was it Charlotte, NC?), roaming the terminal, and waiting for news on whether my flight had been delayed for a second, a third, a fourth time. The fifth and final automated phone call I received from the airline gave me the news I had waited for all summer: I was headed to New York City.
Two years later, I left.
After teasing myself and others for months after I quit my corporate job in May, I finally bid adieu to my first home away from home on Thanksgiving Day. It was bittersweet. I loved (love) this city. But I knew it was time to move on, at least for now.
I met a friend for coffee a few weeks earlier who asked what I loved most about New York.
I told her I loved the struggle.
You don’t come to New York to bullshit around. It’s just too f*cking expensive.
You come to New York to hustle, to hustle for that job, that gig, that booking.
You come to New York with a purpose.
You come to conquer.
And you know, or you will soon know, that the struggle comes with it.
When it’s 12 degrees and snowing, and you’re walking to the train in knee-deep grey snow, because NYC schools don’t believe in snow days, let alone your job, you find comfort in knowing that millions of others are just as miserable as you.
When your Trader Joe’s bag handle breaks two train stops and six walking blocks from your apartment.
When you accept Uber’s 100% fare hike on Halloween because the 2, 3, and C trains aren't running that evening, and the 4 is coming every 25 minutes. It’s 3 a.m. and it’s freezing.
But you don’t mind, because you live in NYC: one of the most exciting cities in the world. And you are in the middle of it all.
I like to think that my crazy flight schedule in was New York’s way of warning me of all the (often hilarious) trials to come, giving me chance after chance to go back home. Back home to family and friends, safety and security, and in-home washers and dryers.
My flight on the one-way ticket I purchased from New York to Atlanta, couldn't have been more opposite. I fell asleep as the plane flew over Rikers Island, and woke up when the captain announced the plane’s descent.
After all the chaos, the hustle and the competition that came with living in the city, New York gave me a peaceful send-off.
At Hartsfield, I grabbed my luggage, and made my way outside where my mom and brother met me. And as hugs and kisses were exchanged, I remembered why I left two years ago:
It’s too quiet.
It’s too easy.
It’s too safe.
I miss the struggle.