My Letter to New York City
You’ll probably think I’m crazy as you read this. But if you’ve lived there, I know you get it. When people ask me about how I feel about New York, I just can’t give them a direct answer. There’s no way to bottle up every unparalleled experience, heartache, high and low, excitement and just about every other thing I’ve felt in just a few sentences.
You're the kind of city that a person can romanticize. A person can a high just by seeing photos of your skyline or even getting the slightest glimpse at your intriguingly worn out streets. Even thinking about a life there is something that most people only dream about. Then, when a person actually lives where you are, they reach a totally different high. It’s really unexplainable. Probably one of my favorite feelings and experiences in the world. My best memories are the ones when I was living in your little concrete jungle. Along with some of my worst. But then when you live there for a while, you end up getting chewed up and spit out a bunch of times. You, meaning me. There's no other way to say it other than, New York: you lose your magic. So a person gets away for a while. But the further away the person is, the more they grow to love it again but in a different way, with a deeper and more complicated appreciation. But… yeah it’s not simple or straightforward. Once a person has lived in the city once in their life, they're not really who they were when they first moved to you, or when they first left you. You somehow evolve people, and you continue to have that effect on people even when a person doesn't live there anymore.
I’ve been back a few times since I’ve moved across the country and you are always good to me and welcome me home in the most comforting ways... but, New York you're just not the city you used to be - that’s for sure. I mean…you're the same but different. The energy is altered. The vibe is not what I totally desire anymore. There’s a whole new generation of people on the island. The streets are not as striking anymore. The food is the best as always, but nightlife is drastically disappointing and underwhelming. Something is just off. I don't love change that much and I kind of wish you were still the same. What happened? Maybe I just got older and I’m jaded. That’s part of it. I’m definitely jaded. How could I possibly be jaded at 26 years old? Probably because I moved to the city when I was 18. I've done a lot and I've seen a lot. But I wouldn’t do anything differently.
I just got back from a trip to see you and I already miss you in a way that I could miss someone I love. I left with a little heart ache, but a comforting one because I know that you'll welcome me back home whenever.
This whole weird “NYC isn’t the same” thing has evoked a lot of thinking and emotion in me which isn’t something I ever really feel on an extreme level. I’ve been pretty good my entire young adult life of having a level head and keeping my emotions in check – in doing so, not really showing that I have any. It’s never been “me” to be outwardly vulnerable. It’s simple – not my style. But New York, I have always had a soft spot for you.
For the most part, I have pretty decent direction. I know mostly where I want to go and where I want to be. I have known from a young age, hence moving to New York, going to college and getting a "grown up job" and now ended up in LA. I've always known that this was my plan. I went through a lot when I was living in your neck of the woods, though.
From laughing till I cried with my best friends, to getting home at 4 am after a crazy night out, to growing up really fast and making my own adult decisions, to discovering all the things I loved, to experiencing the coolest restaurants and cultures and meeting influential people, to having an amazing college experience, to developing my sense of style, to going to random live shows with my friends (which by the way, really drew me to the music scene especially on the LES), to brunch (duh), to never having a dull moment. Sure, Sex and the City and Gossip Girl weren't real shows but there's a handful of story lines that I could swear aligned with mine and my friend's lives. I feel stupid writing this because there's actually no words to even explain all of the experiences that can never be replicated. Like.. there's just so many I don't even know where to start! I still pass those streets that these series of incredibly amazing and joyful memories happened and I smile.
But I also cried a lot. And if you know me, I don't do it often. I cried about money, my terrible first job out of college (actually, cried at my desk at 10 pm alone in the office multiple times), my horrific roommate who up and left one night and texted me that I owed her cable money (lol) after I helped her as a good friend when she found out she was in a really bad situation. I had anxiety about the idiot guys I dated who randomly decided to never speak to me again. I once uncontrollably cried to the point where my eyes physically could not make any more tears when my (serious) boyfriend broke up with me in my apartment on Valentine's Day moments before we were going to go out. I can still remember sitting on my bed - I was all made up, so excited and in a matter of seconds had tears and makeup streaming down my face in straight horror. He had never seen me like that before. I felt lost and alone and I was wrong but I partially blamed how I felt on you, New York. I still pass those streets that these series of unfortunate events happened on and I kind of cringe. But it's ok because it's all over (yay!!) and I am so happy to be out of that stage in my life.
I have finally reached a stage where I am past the bittersweet feeling and onto indifference – which by the way is one of my favorite feelings ever. It’s comforting because I’ve moved on. Now I’ve reached feeling nostalgic (for most things). But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing – it’s that I can experience you, New York in an entirely new way with a fresh perspective. Being away from you for chunks at a time has showed me what to appreciate when I am back.
P.S. you've made me pretty popular out here on the west coast. People always want to know about my life in New York. I wear my Yankees hat to hide from people when I'm having a bad hair day or I haven't slept at all and try to avoid all human contact. Ironically that's when the most people strike up a conversation with me. Wish I could say it was all me! But I can't help to smile with some NYC pride.
With that being said, New York, I knew then and I know now that I'd love you above anything else. Literally, when I was dating that freak, at "the end of the day" (The Hills reference) I laughed and was like - I'd choose New York any day over him!
New York, I love you and I dislike you. You're the reason I came, the reason I left and the reason why I miss you. You're the reason why I curse your name and the reason why I am who I am today. You're the reason I can go outside and spend $50 on air, basically but you're the reason I find beauty and inspiration in the most mundane things. You're the reason I am always running late getting to where I am going, but somehow you get me to arrive to my destination right on time. You were my teacher. You still annoy me when I'm back but I wouldn't trade a day with you for a day anywhere else.
Does this all make sense? Hope so. I warned you this would be all over the place. I told you I don't ever get this personal, but you asked for this.
So, the age old question I get asked more often than not: Will I ever move back to NYC? Maybe. Ideally I’d like to be 100% bi-coastal, which is what I've wanted my whole life. I guess I can kind of say I’m half way there? Well, I’m working on it. At the end of the day I am really happy I moved out of you. I am a firm believer in not staying in one place too long. How can you ever truly evolve if you stay in one place your whole life? I’m not done with LA yet – there’s work to be done here. It's nice here. There's something for me here that I wasn't able to attain in New York. The time hasn’t come where I’ve grown out of it. But it’s comforting knowing that you, New York are always there and will always be my home. Thank you.
Until next time...
Photography by: Prêt-à-Provost