New York Makes You

I used to sigh and shrug at sirens.
Now I want to run. I don’t think they got louder but my capacity to endure their passing has diminished. Their returns on reruns and rap songs irk me and reminds me that it is time. If I ever loved it, I needed to leave. Oh, but how living here these past six years has made me — not only who I am, but also like every other NYC inhabitant. We are what the mixing bowl dumped into: a hearty alphabet soup. The whole flavor more sumptuous than the sum of its ingredients. We are all seasoned by NYC — we can’t NOT be. Allow me to recount the ways…

NEW YORK MAKES YOU TOUGH. But to be honest, I’ve kind of had enough. I was born sensitive but since I’ve lived here, I have hardened to adapt. My feet have calloused to the concrete streets, but underneath my leather boots my socks have slipped below my heels. I just want to move south and pull them up. I need to heal, a new pair of socks to rock and perhaps some cowboy boots to boot.

NEW YORK MAKES YOU HURRY UP AND WAIT. Those heels I mentioned don’t ever get a break — they’re getting stepped on sidewalks just to hurry underground to wait for the next train delay.

NEW YORK MAKES YOU CHEAP about things that you should invest in like shoes and mattresses ’cause if you’re not resting in one the best bet is you’ll be in the other. But when your brother visits, all bets are off, you offer to pick up the check on a mixology bar tab that may be equivalent to a car down payment.

NEW YORK MAKES YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH THINGS YOU CAN’T AFFORD. Forever driving you towards something or something like it, falling short-sighted, accepting the knock-off, placating your urge for something better that you deserve. All those times you accept the shit behavior from the one who could have all of you should he just simply want to, drafting texts to him and over-drafting your account on account of not knowing just how much you’re really worth.

NEW YORK MAKES YOU LONELY and keeps you single file up the 86 St. or Union Stop at seven o’clock. Surrounded by like minds and neighbors that you’ll never meet. Unless of course you both happen to cross paths on the Path train and have the app, happn and ‘heart’ one another. Seriously! In New York that’s how great love stories start! And start! And..[heart] start again! And sort of end and start up and move-in and then REALLY end and move out and download the app again. With all of these romance and heart-pumping kickstarters why aren’t more movers and shakers putting a ring on it then? A native Brooklynite I took home some nights says its ’cause here folks are focused on ‘career’. Yet most people from my high school cohort (NOT in New York) are married and ‘shocker’ don’t have careers that make them want to careen off a cliff (the non-government ones that is). They did not just up-and-Jerry-Maguire or get purposely fired cause they desired children, got a lock on a husband and pacifier for the kid and a life they could have had. No. They’re working mom’s and dad’s with less options or access to a ritzier and riskier life. But as Atmosphere quips about Minneapolis, “I don’t need to be distracted by the devil everyday.”

NEW YORK MAKES YOU MOVE. Like sharks we don’t stop. Stopping is stagnation where bacteria sticks, we get lack of motion sickness. God forbid we stop and feel sad. we must. move. on. Come on, the walk sign’s on and even tourists are starting to get annoyed by your loitering. Yet, all this pacing makes our mind race, so forcing it to stop and gas up and get Mindful by emptying it is the new thing. Meditating on not thinking is designed to help you make decisions faster and stay cool under pressure when tensions and a bottleneck are building outside the Empire State.

NEW YORK MAKES YOU PROUD and inevitably interested in what everyone else is doing. I am intoxicated by TedTalks and Creative Morning mimosas….I want to be under-the-influence of glorious influencers, led drunkenly upstairs by thought-leaders waking up again and realizing that at some point you gotta stop networking and net work worth talking about. Only when you put your head down eyes on your own paper and type and type and delete… type repeat. ‘Amateur’ the word means love — the amateurs are the dreamers most proud and devastated. They are quick to stop and start and dream fame and the pros just know to keep making it regardless of what accolades are on your chest. The best ones make when no one’s looking and overcome the FOMO. They are ‘MO’. But also more likely to be TedTalking to you from YouTube.

NEW YORK MAKES YOU HAVE TO GO. You know when you’re just getting started at a really fun party, your gal pal telling a hilarious story you wish will never end… or making the treacherous ascent to an illegal rooftop following the accent of a handsome new friend (is he Australian or a Kiwi?)
And suddenly you have to pee.
But you hold out. Cause the story from the party is really good and gory. And you just want to keep listening to cute Rooftop’s vowel sounds trying to discern if he was born in Melbourne. Your bladder subsides along with the evening’s events and by the time the subway spits you out several blocks from your place, you pick up the pace — you need to piss. It’s escalated to the point of emergency and you stand at the base of the stairwell looking up, legs crossed — a painful tourniquet preventing you from urinating in your sevens and suede boots.
Dammit.
This is how I feel about New York. New York is the exotic hot rooftop prospect, your charismatic best friend that, were she with another party, you might shoot a death-glare for all her clamor, but because she’s in your tribe, no diatribe can touch her. I accumulate contacts-turned-coffee chats, dates with people dating other people, opportunities to freelance, and volunteer, and sit-on-the-board-and-panel. My calendar, er, bladder is full. And all I want to do now is let it all go.
I want to be in a new place to figure it out again — to be an outsider needing to charm, disarm, and politely push my way in.
I have not left New York enough — I know this.
If I had politely excused myself from the Best Party ever and relieved myself of my obligations by going on a couple sabbaticals to South America or Asia. Or done my own version of Eat Pray Love. Instead of just leaving to eat too much at Thanksgiving, praying that the zippers don’t break on my jeans or suitcase as I close up shop after the holidays and schlep it to the DC-bound bus stop, and falling in and out of love with the city whose foot fell asleep swiping left and right all night.
Maybe we’ll make a lasting commitment to each other again someday to the tune of a two year lease in Ridgewood or Windsor Hills — by then I’ll be priced out of my beloved Crown Heights. But if not, I am sure that we will stay in touch — New York is in my fingertips and it makes you a maker too.


Originally published at alisonptugwell.squarespace.com on November 29, 2015.

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