In Defense of NYC

I feel like I’ve already written my goodbye letter to New York. I feel like I’ve been writing it. (If you want the extended version, it lives under that little tab up there, the one that says In New York City.) But something tells me I’m not quite done writing it — and won’t be, even after this post is done.

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I’m not leaving until Tuesday, after all. There is still time for pie. Plenty of time for lots of pie, from a place I’d always wanted to go.

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I’d never had any kind of pie, before I moved here. This was before I went to work at a place full of pie people. Full of them!

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I think they’d be happy to know that I’ve become a pie person. (As long as I can still be a cake person. And a cookie person?)

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Salty Honey Pie. Salted Caramel Apple Pie. Pie I can’t remember because I was so busy exclaiming over those two.

Someone should probably tell me that salted caramel is not a food group. Less than 24 hours passed before I went back for more. Quick pause: there is something called Salted Crack Caramel ice cream, and you are definitely going to want to try it, if you are ever even remotely close to Brooklyn.

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I take that back: you’re going to want to try it even if you are not at allnot in any way, shape, or form, close to Brooklyn. The last bite is long gone, and I’m still mourning the fact that it took me 12 months to get out there.

12 months. It crawled and it flew, day-depending. But generally speaking, winter was long. So long.

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Spring, on the other hand…spring seemed to slide right into summer. Isn’t that always the way?

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I have the feeling that you think New York was one endlessly long and lonely night, for me. Made survivable only by a steady stream of scone-sized chocolate chip cookies. That makes sense — I think that’s the part I showed you.

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And in many ways, it was. Moving here is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

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Side note: I’m probably also going to need to take that back, pretty quickly. I have a sneaking suspicion that this summer is going to throw me for a pretty big loop, too. I’m hoping that you’ll stick around for that. There will be cake.

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Anyway, there’s a really steep learning curve, in entry-level New York. And if you want to know the truth, I felt like an exceptionally slow learner for my first 6-9 months. Had it not been for the whole friend date project, I don’t think I would have made it through my whole lease. If you’re new here (hi!), Project Friend Date involved an ongoing attempt to like coffee, and lots of bribes to make myself go meet people I’d never met (or didn’t know very well).

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In the beginning I had to coax myself into saying yes every single time someone asked me to hang out. But by the end, I was the one reaching out to say, hey, there’s this place I’ve heard a lot about — any chance you’d want to get together and go?

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It sort of took on a life of its own, and I went on something like 88 dates in a 5-month period. That was a highlight.

But in between all of those dates, there were some really not-so-great times. There were hours spent stuck on the subway. Strange men who followed me home. Nights I lay curled up in a ball on my studio floor (I gave up on air mattresses, after the third one). There were tears shed — yup — in front of my boss. 2 months of unemployment. Loneliness so sharp, it could have cut me like a knife. Weeks I ate too little, chased by weeks I ate too much.

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And then there were new jobs and new friends. New hopes. Proof that New York didn’t take a pinprick to absolutely all of them.

New York was a brutal teacher — I do think that’s fair to say. But I don’t think it would be fair for me not to give credit where credit is due. Because New York gave me my independence. It gave me a place of my own. It freed me from old relationships, finally. It showed me what I didn’t want; it showed me my priorities. It granted me permission to be somebody new, somebody I really liked — somebody I would want to be friends with.

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New York presented me with thousands and thousands of new things to try. (I feel better about small plates now, although I would still prefer a large plate, thank you very much.)

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It gave me a voice. It gave me an eye (or more of one, anyway). It gave me the ability to see that my strength — my particular strength — is my vulnerability, even if there isn’t all that much room for that here.

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And it gave me 3 job opportunities in my last week, just because it could. Damn you, New York. Damn you. It’ll rob you blind and leave you feeling seduced, this place.

This place. It’s hot and cold. Accessible, and yet not accessible at all. Incredibly beautiful in places, but impossibly ugly in others. Ugly in the way that all cities are, I’d imagine. But there’s something particular about New York. New York is a nightmare and a dream, all rolled into one. It’s all of the above; it’s everything.

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I wonder how long the rat will remain my most-used emoji. Poetics aside, this place really is a glorified garbage pit. I still find it completely crazy that it costs as much as it does, to live in this much filth.

But I no longer find it so crazy that people want to stay. That people come for a summer, and simply stay — often for a decade or more. Or that people go away, and eventually decide to come back.

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