New York State of Departure
“New York has always been going to hell, but somehow it never gets there.” — Robert Pirsig
My bags are packed and I’m about to lug them outside and flag down a taxi cab to take me to JFK for the very last time as a New York City resident. Okay, real talk, I’m actually summoning an Uber, but hailing a taxi cab seemed like the more nostalgic and New York-y thing to write about. I’m so excited to get back to Hella NorCal, but it’s certainly been a wild ride here in the Big Apple.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and forever: it really sucks living here. Despite being such an energetic and magical place to visit for a week or weekend, it’s an incredibly trying and challenging city to set up quasi-permanent shop. This city knows who’s boss and it isn’t you — after having a great, successful day, do not be surprised when a bus speeds by on the street and splashes a dirty street puddle all over you. During the winters, you’re walking around the streets through snow or freezing rain (!?), the wind seems to always be blowing in your face, and the sidewalks and stairs are slippery and salty and treacherous. That being said, at least it’s not Boston; I’m convinced people who live there don’t actually have skin.
Then, during the summers, even if you’re fortunate enough to have an apartment with air conditioning (mine consisted only of two desk fans and an occasionally open refrigerator), you’re a hot, sweaty, moist (word used for emphasis) mess after five minutes outside. The heat in the subway is equally oppressive, the skies periodically open up into a torrential downpour, and the pungent aroma of trash and urine hangs heavy in the air.
On top of that, year round, it’s unlikely that your apartment has an elevator, making normally routine tasks like grocery shopping an arduous ordeal as you carry bags up five flights through the aforementioned heat or cold. The city is obnoxiously loud, with trucks driving down your narrow street at 3:30 in the morning, and ambulances passing you with their sirens competing for your attention among the trucks, the taxi horns, and that loud drunk guy across the street. Oh, and beers are like $9.
And even with all that, I wouldn’t trade my two years in this loud, crowded, uncomfortable, expensive hellscape for anything.
I knew that I would meet a lot of people through my MBA at Stern since networking is such a pivotal aspect of business school, but to describe it as “networking” is far too superficial and shallow. I’ve had the privilege of meeting (and partying with and spending too much money with) some of my best friends in the world in this city. They’ve challenged my beliefs, transformed the ways I think, and have been my wolf pack in good times and my support system in tougher times. I’m so grateful that I was able to steal a handful of them away to San Francisco with me, and I can’t wait for the others to come and visit us on their way to spending a weekend in Napa.
I’ll miss my friends. I’ll miss the subway that can take me anywhere in the city at any time of day without having to worry about carpooling or picking a designated driver (even if it makes me wait for 30 minutes sometimes). I’ll miss the fact that food is available practically 24/7, and that there’s always a bar ready to serve me and my degenerate friends until 4:00am on those nights that get a little more out of control than expected. I’ll miss that first cool day of fall where the air is a little crisper and all of us basic bitches can start ordering pumpkin spice and gingerbread lattes to drink as the leaves turn colors in the Park. I’ll miss that first warm day of spring when the restaurants open their windows onto the streets, I can put my pale white feet into flip-flops for the first time, and I can retire my scarves and gloves in favor of shorts and iced coffees.
I’ll miss dollar pizza and free movies in the parks. I’ll miss running into people from school around the East Village, and running into celebrities at Mamoun’s late at night. I’ll miss happy hours near the water as the sun is setting over the Hudson, and I’ll miss the crazy public parties that take place year around ranging from Santacon to pillow fights in Washington Square. I’ll miss the fact that everyone lives here or has moved here with a goal, purpose, or ambition in mind, and they’re willing to put themselves through the obstacles this city presents in order to fulfill the promise this city represents.
Thanks NYC. Now, someone please get to work on figuring out how to tow Manhattan to just off the coast of Santa Monica. Williamsburg can come too.
tl;dr — I’m moving to San Francisco, and there are some good things and some bad things about New York City.