I hate New York. I really do.
I hate that when you walk outside on a summer day, the humidity slaps you like a ton of bricks. You can’t walk on the sidewalk without accumulating massive droplets of nasty air conditioner water in your hair and the entire city reeks like a cesspool. Like, an actual cesspool because people do their business in the middle of the street on a regular basis. And no one even thinks twice about it.
I hate that being outside of your building means being constantly touched by strangers. They rub up against you as you’re entering the subway, brush your shoulder as they try to get in front of you in the crosswalk, kick you in the shins like you need the extra bruises. Getting flat-tired is a daily occurrence. It’s like the construction zone on the highway that never gets finished, except this one has sweat and germs and halitosis instead of air conditioning and Katy Perry on the radio and personal space.
I hate that I’m slowly but surely going completely deaf because everything is so goddamn loud all the time. Even when you’re sleeping, it’s loud. The lingering ringing of my iPod, which is turned up to the maximum volume so I can drown out the bustling cars, trains, and cell phone conversations, never really stops. It just carries over into the next day when the cycle repeats itself.
I hate that 30 minutes after the snow falls, it turns brown with dirt and cooties. And then it takes 5 freaking months to finally melt.
I hate that you can’t get a decent meal for under $10 no matter how hard you try. Come to think of it, you can’t even get a shitty meal for under $10. That day-old salad bar says it’s $7.99, but with the gajillion percent tax rate plus a bottle of water you’re up to $12.25 already.
I hate that if you decide you want to get any kind of fresh air, you have to go to Central Park where everyone else and their dog and kid are polluting the environment with their cigarettes and poop. And believe you me, this is not the rainbow poop.
I hate that you have to have money to not be miserable.
I hate that everyone is trying to be something all the time. Whether it’s bringing back the feather earrings and fanny packs or trying to save world with raw vegan gluten-free sugar-free fat-free whateverthehell cookies, it’s always something. Everyone is in the race to come up with the next big thing, and the competition is insufferable. It’s not “what do you like?” or “what are your interests?” or even “why do I want to know you?” It’s always “what do you do?” and “who do you know?” and “how can I take advantage of that?” Sigh.
Of course, I love New York. I really do.
I love that when you walk outside on a summer day, there are a thousand and one free concerts, beer gardens, fresh oysters, outdoor patios, mimosas, and wild bartenders. I love that it doesn’t matter if you’re dripping sweat from your 45-minute commute and need to change your shirt when you get to the office because everyone else is doing the same thing, too.
I love that being outside of your building means you have the opportunity to meet someone amazing, someone unlike anyone you’ve never met before. Someone who could change your entire perception of the world during the course of a subway ride. I love that even when you’re in the worst mood ever from exhaustion or stress and the last thing you want to do is talk to anyone ever, there’s always some guy there to whistle at you and tell you that you look beautiful today and can you walk by him again so he can get another look at that smile?
I love that city really doesn’t ever sleep, and if you need to work late, party late, eat late (or early, for that matter), you’ll always find others who are out and about, frolicking around under the bright lights and steady hum of the streets.
I love that even the crazy ones are embraced with open arms, because really, we’ve all been there at one point or another.
I love that you can get any type of cuisine in almost any neighborhood at any time, day or night. Many of the chefs in New York have traveled far and wide to master their art, and they refuse to serve anything less than exquisite. And these chefs aren’t always cooking in the fancy 5-star restaurants, they’re serving up the best hot dog you ever had in a hole in the wall in Brooklyn. There are flavors and presentations and combinations of herbs and spices that I never could have imagined, and sometimes they find a way to be perfectly paired with a nice cold can of PBR.
I love how incredibly peaceful the first snowfall is. The time when everyone stays in their apartment, drinking hot chocolate, playing card games, and pretending to be kids again so as not to disrupt the sheets of white on their front steps and windowsills.
I love when the sun starts to set, the light refracts through the clouds and casts beautiful shimmering lines on the skyscrapers and water towers and sidewalks. I love that you can stand on a roof in midtown and see two different bodies of water simply by looking right and left.
I love that everyone who lives in New York is here because they truly want to be here. They are working on building their empire, whatever it is, and the passion, creativity, and devotion to their cause is tangible. I love that there is a sense of community, even among strangers, who when they see you struggling to get on and off the train or up the subway stairs or into the elevator because you’ve been traveling back and forth to your boyfriend’s tiny apartment with way too much shit, they’ll offer a kind hand.
I love that if you need a drink at 11am on a Monday, you’re never alone.
And so here I am. Back in a city I never thought I’d live in again. And I love it.