Maybe it’s because my rose-colored glasses haven’t quite worn off since I moved to the city in May, but I would just like to have it in print: I love New York. Surprisingly, I’ve realized after talking with my friends who are New York natives, that many of the reasons I love New York are the exact same reasons that they hate it. So let me make my case, one point at a time, letting all of my naive optimism just hang out in the open:
- Subway commutes. Yes, the 6 Train at rush hour is just about the closest I’ve ever stood to a hundred other strangers. And while I don’t love being able to smell the hair of the person I’m pushed up against, the subways offer a 30 to 45 minute respite from your to-do list. For the entire time you’re underground, all you have to do is read a book or listen to a podcast, plus paying for a monthly metro card is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for car insurance.
- Everyone is always in a rush. So many songs and books refer to the hustle of New York, and it’s true, sometimes it can feel like everyone in the city is late for something. While the speed of the city can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when someone pushes you aside as they run to catch their bus, the pace of the city is electric: There is always something going on.
- You’re never alone. One of my friends who grew up in L.A. but went to school in the city, pointed out to me that when people in L.A. meet up for a drink, everyone is extremely social because they’ve spent their entire day isolated in a car, but when people in New York meet up for a drink, they’re less likely to be social because they’ve spent their entire day surrounded by other people and could use a break. This may be true, but I love that there are so many opportunities in New York for human interaction. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t have a conversation with the man at my local bodega or share a moment with someone on the subway that makes me smile.
- It’s expensive. Okay, obviously the expensive part is sort of a drag, but some of the expensive places are really incredible and worth saving up for. And, there are just as many inexpensive as expensive places — there are so many places to eat, drink, and shop in New York that the price range and value run the gamut; you just need to know where to look. (Let’s just not talk about rent…)
- The weather. I often say that I couldn’t live somewhere that doesn’t have four seasons — I love the transition from snowy winters to bright and sunny springs. And while New York can take the whole four seasons thing a little too seriously (below-zero shouldn’t be a temperature), the city is so beautiful in the morning after it’s been snowing all night. And, Central Park in the fall — need I say more?
- Everyone’s alway busy. Yes, it’s nearly impossible to find time to see my friends with full-time jobs (especially when it feels like most jobs now are 24-hours) but most of my friends in the city are so busy because they are all working so hard towards something. Most of my girlfriends are pursuing their dream careers at publishing companies, in public health, and in advertising since New York is the heart of so many industries. So yes, we’re all busy, but I’d rather be busy pursuing something I love, than have free time and a mediocre job anywhere else.
- Everyone loves New York. If you’ve ever been to Times Square, you’ve seen the Instagram-ready tourists with bright eyes, thrilled to be in the city that never sleeps. They’re purchasing Broadway tickets to Chicago, taking the elevator up the Empire State Building, and eating overpriced Italian food on 8th Avenue, ignoring the more subtle, beautiful parts of the city. And while this unanimous love of the city can sometimes be infuriating when I walk through the throngs of tourists in Midtown, sometimes I have to remind myself that I was a tourist not even eight months ago, and that the lights of Times Square can be magical. Loving New York is a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason.
On one of my first days in New York, as a student of the Columbia Publishing Course, one of the lecturers read this passage from E.B. White’s “Here is New York,” which has since become one of my favorite passages about the city:
There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last — the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.