So…I just spent over a week in NYC , as a sort of experiment. I got really tired of everyone telling me that I would feel differently about the city if I lived here. Now, I know that a week isn’t “living there”. But I wanted to spend enough time (and do enough normal stuff) to at least get a taste of a non-vacation experience. So I sandwiched a week of semi-normal life between my birthday vacation and my mom’s birthday vacation. I worked, slept, and economized. Here are some things I learned….
1. PRO: I don’t need to spend a lot on food to savor it. NYC has amazing food at any price. A “cheap” restaurant there does start at $10, but the dives are delicious. And I apparently don’t get tired of hot dogs, lamb over rice, or egg sandwiches. I also never get tired of Tisserie cookies or Stumptown coffee.
2. CON: Rainy days and Mondays still get me down. It rained for two days, and I did not leave the apartment. And my work wasn’t less work-like just because I was in New York. I felt better on the whole, but I still had to deal with the same crap I deal with in normal life. Apparently, my phases of ennui are not place-contingent.
3. PRO: I can find a favorite coffeeshop and plant there happily. Again, Tisserie. They have dulce de leche cookies (alfajores, with real dulce de leche) that could bring world peace. And their flavored latte is perfection (I prefer iced). I was also a fan of Stumptown at the ACE hotel–try the almond croissant.
4. CON: It still takes the wherewithal to get there. I require a stronger initial burst of energy to actually walk out of a house than to do anything once I’ve left. New York doesn’t fuel that or pull me out of my door any faster. It is still a struggle to trade familiar stasis for exciting transience.
5. PRO: New Yorkers are friendly and interesting. I interviewed a local artist. I hung out with a photographer/designer. I walked with an older man for a couple of blocks, and we talked about the rain and buses. Random people are willing to be helpful, and there really are a lot of different kinds floating around. People may keep to themselves as a rule, but they will reward you if you take the trouble to engage them.
6. CON: My social sensibilities are, indeed, more Southern than I thought. You can’t really smile at someone else’s baby. Pleasantries are exchanged sparsely among strangers. Nondirected charm is a rarity. Of course, not all of these hold for everyone. But I noticed a significant difference from the overall camaraderie and “consider yourself” atmosphere of the South. And, in New York, conversations are not supposed to be overheard.
7. PRO: I like the energy it takes to move about. There is only one pace–fast. There is no stopping at crosswalks–peds first. There are no addresses–only cross-streets. There are only four directions–uptown, downtown, east, and west. I absolutely love it. I never feel lost. I go the wrong direction plenty, but it only takes one block to figure that out.
8. CON: You basically have to expend energy to move about. If you’re not near a subway station, you have to walk. Now, there were plenty of times that I wanted to walk, and I would do so. But, on a rainy day, with a heavy backpack, the 5-block trek from Liz’s to the station was just too much to contemplate.
9. PRO: I’m a different person there, one I really like. I love being a fast-walking, confident, all-night New Yorker. I felt that I blended quite well, especially when compared to my we-just-want-to-amble mom and aunt. I found a favorite haunt, did a decent job with the subway, learned how to navigate by cross-streets, and took the lead. In other words, I had a sense of place, lived with autonomy, and didn’t get lost as I moved about fearlessly.
10. CON: I’m still the same person, and my problems still hold me back. I was still tired, still listless, still comfort-seeking, and still shin splint-y.
Conclusion: I would still love to live there…when I could truly afford it (not wealthy–just stable). I think I’ll stick with my 20-year plan, and content myself in the meantime with week-long workations now and then (and my annual birthday trip).
[Author's Note: Photos will follow within the next week or so.]