Here are 10 cool things that convinced me to move to NYC.
Yay! A listicle! If you’re not saying that in your head, you’re quietly judging me for being a journalism major and plummeting to the lowly low of listicle writing. They’re like the plague, I get it. But they’re also a tidy way to compartmentalize my thoughts and share them in a way that people will actually read. Let’s be real, are you really going to keep reading all the way to the end of a typical aritcle without the allure of that tops-’em-all #1 reason I did this or that?
Maybe, maybe not. Let’s get to it.
#10 — Museums
I could spend days — nay, weeks — in museums and art galleries. Something about walking around and gazing upon the work of another’s hand just plain soothes me. It’s like a brain massage. The variety of New York’s museums and ease of reaching them — there are like four in my neighborhood alone — is kinda awesome.
#9 — Entertainment
Quick, name a major artist that doesn’t stop in NYC on their tour. Yeah, pretty much everyone goes to this metropolis of musical perfection. Plus, there are free concerts probably every single week out of the year. And I’m not talking about Uncle Joe’s Jazz Band. I’m talking Jay-Z in Central Park. Which leads me to…
#8 — Central Park
It’s central to the city. And it’s a park. And it’s so, so much more than that. This thing has a reservoir, running trails, woods, bridges and walking paths for miles. It’s incredibly beautiful, and reflective of the seasons. It’s a (not quite) quiet escape from the sheer humanity and bustle of Manhattan. And it’s like two blocks from my apartment, which is very cool. Hey, neighbor.
#7 — Travel
Okay, so I’m new to the East Coast. Give me a break. But there are so many amazing travel opportunities a train ride away. Upstate New York is beyond gorgeous, especially in the Fall. It was months September through November in any scenic calendar I had growing up. NYC is close to amazing cities like Boston, and just a hop over the Atlantic to London. Europe is right there…a mind-blowing thought to a Californian used to 14-hour plane journeys. There’s a whole new world at my fingertips…if I can afford to explore it.
#6 — Architecture
I’m a self-declared architecture nerd. It’s the reason I love Chicago, and hate Los Angeles (sorry boo ❤). And while New York might not be as diverse in the architecture field as Chicago, it’s kind of in its own field. I mean, just look at the Empire State Building, or the Chrysler Building. One World Trade Center. Swoon. Not only that, but the humble brownstones that line Manhattan’s shady blocks have a character of their own. Each is beautifully unique. And I’m a sucker for exposed brick walls.
#5 — Food
Or as I call them, the #noms. Yeah, there’s pizza, and coffee in a cup with a Greek-ish font. But go right ahead and name a type of Ethnic food, and I can guarantee there’s a restaurant, cafe, or sidewalk stand that can damn well replicate the flavors and methods of dishes native to that country. Plus, you can get this food at any point on the spectrum — there’s the sidewalk hot dog stand and the gourmet Indian food restaurant. And everything in between. Plus, $1 pizza. Come on.
#4 — People
New Yorkers get a bad rap. I get it. It’s a city, people are busy. There’s no room for bullshit of any type. As a slighty-cynical, head-down, get-to-it kind of girl, I feel like *these are my people*. Yeah, there’s no need to be rude, but if you’re walking fast with your head down, minding your own business on your way to work, then carry on, sir. And for every rude person, I’ve learned that there are a handful more that throw a smile or a hello your way on even the windiest, cold days. So there.
#3 — Career
You have to be a fighter to have a career in the city. You have to be hungrier than hell, every damn day, to work your way up even a step-ladder in Manhattan. This is the big time. Jobs are incredibly competitive, and the hours are long. Like, 7am — 10pm long. But it’s oh so worth it. Because you’re working with some of the world’s brightest, most innovative minds, surrounded by the globe’s leading companies. This is where you make it.
#2 — Growth
All things aside, NYC is a tough city to live in. It’s expensive. Groceries are a pain to get — and expensive to have delivered. The winters are rough. The city is noisy, smelly, and busy. And this means you need to have a certain level of toughness, of acceptance that things won’t be easy. That you’ll have to walk ten blocks in the pouring rain or snow to get to work, or to pick up cough medicine, because you’re alone in a big city and you don’t have the luxury of a car, or the cash to pay for a cab. You rise to the occasion or you let it crush you. Don’t let it crush you. The shit moments will be worth the person you become.
#1 — New. York. City.
It’s probably the greatest city in the world. I’m 23 years old. Why not?
He dropped her hand, lifting his to his brow. Scanning the horizon, he motioned silently for her to follow him down a sloping path to the beach.
Beams of sunlight crept up and over the curve of the Earth, painting the ocean a silky pastel pink. It was an unusually flat morning. Not even a sea breeze rippled over the Pacific. To disturb the ocean’s surface on a morning like this would be to ruin the illusion of perfection.
That’s why he could rarely look her in the eyes. In his mind, she was perfect — beyond beautiful, her sun-bleached and wavy hair cascading over her shoulders. Her eyes as freckled as her face, her skin a golden tan. Looking at her too deeply would reveal the world inside, a world he knew contained broken pieces. He accepted these pieces and accepted that as hard as he tried, none of his tape and glue would put her back together.
And so he allowed her to be, at least in his eyes, as perfectly whole as the unmarred ocean before them.
He touched her arm only to guide her down the path, letting her go when their toes met sand. They walked south hip to hip, letting the shoreline and the hours slip by in silence.
When the sun reached its apex, they sat on a sea-shaped piece of driftwood, watching seagulls dip to the sea and scoop up fish. They were lulled by the in and out and in and out and in of the waves. They noticed where the tide had been, where it was, and where it would soon go. The cycles of the Earth kept them sane.
When night eventually fell, they found a cove, holding each other close as the world spun them into darkness. It was a balmy, breathless night, one that begged for nothing beyond the clothes they wore.
She fell asleep with her head on his chest, the sound of his heart the only thing that could drown out the hum of the waves.
This continued for three days, until finally, they reached the border. Beyond them, another country. The border was invisible, of course. Humans create maps and borders and lines and laws, but the Earth accepts all and divides itself for none.
Humans, though, were the decision makers. The Earth had no say in these matters. He could not continue — while she would move forward, he could only move backwards. And so they stood awhile, watching the waves move in and out again, feeling the electricity and pain in each others’ skin.
For the last time, he allowed himself to look her in the eyes, to soak in everything she was. To grip her hand more tightly than ever before. And then he let her go.
You must be willing to change. You must be willing to break the deal you made with the devils within. You must be willing to leave the past and not be tempted to rebound when times are tough. You must be willing to let go of everything and anyone that takes you back to your sins. You must be willing to have hope. You must be willing to have hope that you can change and that you will and that you will be better. You must believe you are worthy of change and you are worthy of improvement and you are worthy of being the best. You must be willing to set aside your negative notions about life, about hardships, about people, about things, about yourself. You must be willing to stop feeling sorry for yourself while looking at the world move around you.
And in the water I could see a piece of what you broke in me.
I took a walk my usual way,
I called to quit my job today.
And in these holy, empty hours, when my quiet thoughts get louder, Saying you’re born to be this way;
You’re not meant to be afraid.
Sometimes my heart and brain conspire to set everything on fire
Just to stop the tyranny of that minute hand on me.
We woke for golden morning hours, just to soak in all the power.
We weren’t made to be this way.
We weren’t made to be afraid.
“What are we here for if not to enjoy life eternal, solve what problems we can, give light, peace and joy to our fellow-man, and leave this dear fucked-up planet a little healthier than when we were born.”—Henry Miller
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”—Jack Kerouac
Where we live, what we do, who we love, why we continue to exist. To a great extent, we decide our own purpose.
And while all of these decisions are ours to make, we cannot have our first choices all at once. Life is about picking one or the other — what we do orwhere we live. Who we are or who we love.
There are an infinite number of options, and they change daily. This means that we are the result of the choices we make. They’ll rip us apart and build us back up.
At the end of the day, we have to choose the outcome that will cause us the least pain and bring the most happiness. The two are forever intertwined; a package deal that comes with every single breath we take. This delicate chemistry of loss and gain controls our lives.
We kill 24 hours each day — 24 hours we’ll never get back. We hope that, when the sun sets, we can sleep with the decisions we’ve made during those hours. We hope that we can rise again for the next 24 stronger, and able to keep moving with the conviction that the choices we made were right.
Life is this giant bridge, one without rails, immersed by fog, hovering over a churning bay or ocean or river - depends on where you live, I suppose.
The point is this:
You can keep crossing, keep moving forward with the crowd, and someday you’ll reach the end. I hope what you find there is pleasing.
You can jump off and sink down, if you so choose. Make of that what you will. It’s not about giving up.
You can climb the spans, walk the beams, slip on a dewy surface or soak up a ray of sun above the clouds. Below you, everything will move on as planned.
You can stop and enjoy the view, letting the hustle and flow of life move around you as you watch the water bend and twist in the light. You can stop for a moment with one of your fellow travelers, perhaps talk for a bit, let their hand grasp yours as you try to understand all that’s around you.
What you cannot do is turn back. This is a one way bridge. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have forgotten what was at the genesis of this bridge. That is okay. You must simply keep moving forwards, toward the end - don’t spend too much trying to understand. You may crawl, walk, run, or skip. You may do things to slow your journey or speed it along; but you will always, always move forward.