Monday, December 12, 2016

5 things I'll miss about New York City.

The first photo I took from my apartment living room.
People often call New York City the greatest city in the world, though when I first moved here, I was warned that I would constantly feel exhausted just trying to walk down a sidewalk. And it ended up being very true, in my first year especially – whether it was on the streets or down in the subway, the amount of people constantly surrounding me became so overwhelming that all I wanted to do at the end of the day was shut my bedroom door and not talk to a single soul.

The last five years have been as exhilarating as they have been draining. When I look back at old blog posts or diary entries or letters from high school and college, I was never shy about declaring that someday I would live in New York. I'm glad I did it and I don't regret getting on that bus in 2012 with just two suitcases and a backpack, praying that I would find a place to live and a job one day.

But lately – the past 18 months especially – I've felt somewhat frozen in time. New York felt less like "home" to me in 2016 than ever before, and it hit me so suddenly back in the beginning of the year that my head and my heart were just no longer here. All of the excuses and the reasons I'd given for being in New York just no longer held up. I think I'll get into all this in a separate post because what I really want to talk about right now are the things I'll miss about New York. For as much shit as I've talked on this city, I've had some amazing moments here too, and I don't want to leave only remembering the bad stuff.

First, the snapshots: It's hard to list out everything that's taken my breath away these last five years, and if I had all the time in the world, I'd try and recall so much more of it. But off the top of my head: I've slept in midtown (twice) for SNL tickets and stood on top of the Empire State Building. I watched the Mars Rover land amongst thousands in tinfoil hats from Times Square. I've seen the Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting from the roof of 30 Rock and fallen asleep in Central Park to the sounds of the New York Philharmonic live. I walked 100 blocks to work after Hurricane Sandy. I've eaten amazing food. I've rung in several new years around the city, from Central Park to a dance floor down in Gramercy.

Second, the list (because who would I be if I didn't make a list?): 5 Things I'll Miss About New York City (In No Particular Order)...

1. My neighborhood. A couple months after I moved to New York (I've lived in the same apartment in Hamilton Heights since coming here), a hipster coffee shop opened across the street. Since then, another coffee shop has opened a couple blocks down that's bigger and, in my opinion, better; a hand-pulled noodle place popped up across the street; there are more restaurants and pubs – and, yet, it all still feels...untouched. Yes, it's part of the gentrification of Manhattan that has finally been hitting uptown, and yet the quiet and calm and just general chill is still there. I mean, really: it is quiet uptown. I'm truly going to miss being able to get coffee, read a book along the river, and get a deli sandwich on a Saturday without ever leaving the neighborhood.

2. The pace (kind of). People in California used to tell me I would fit in perfectly in New York because I was always the kind of person who was on the go and moving fast. But since moving here, I've never felt more...Californian. And although I still speed walk down the sidewalks of California like a New Yorker, it will be nice to not feel like I'm fighting with the world just to walk to the subway anymore.

Also, I was in Charleston this past weekend and went to get a sandwich to go, and about 15 minutes into waiting for my sandwich, I started getting annoyed that my sandwich wasn't ready. And then I felt bad because the rest of the world moves at a normal speed and I'm becoming that person that I don't want to become. So, bye New York speed...


3. The convenience. I am going to get into it later why I will not have a car when I move to LA (save the lectures, people!), but the one thing I will really, really, really miss about New York is being able to walk outside and be on the subway in just a matter of minutes (well, depending on delays), en route to my next destination (if I don't get stuck in a tunnel).

4. The access to the theatre. When I was little, I had this horizontal poster above my bed that looked like a Broadway street sign. It was my dream growing up to move to New York to be on Broadway. And although that didn't quite pan out the way I'd always hoped, I've had the incredible privilege to see some amazing shows while living here: everything from Shakespeare in the Park (Much Ado!) to Broadway previews (Clare and I saw Once before all the hype, and it was wonderful) and major shows (hello, Book of Mormon and Hamilton). I've seen Nick Jonas dance his way across the stage (How to Succeed in Business), and I've seen one of my favorite shows finally played out on stage that I'd only ever heard the soundtrack to (Bare: A Pop Opera). And I've dined with George Takei after seeing Allegiance!

And so much more. Damn, why am I moving again?

5. The parks. It's not totally a concrete jungle! Who would've thought? The only time I'd been to New York before I moved here was for a weekend trip literally one month before I moved, and I remember falling in love with Central Park. "If I lived here, I'd read in this park every weekend!" my friend and I declared while visiting, but to be honest: I've never ever read a book while sitting in Central Park. But! I have read books in many other parks – Washington Square Park, Prospect Park, any of the Riverside Parks along the Hudson... for those who think New York lacks anything green, there are seriously miles and miles of parks that will prove you wrong.

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