New York, I owe you an apology. I was very angry with you.
I had been living and working in NYC for almost 8 years and I think it finally caught up with me. There’s the famous quote, “If you can make it here you can make it anywhere.” I’m not sure if it’s really that anymore. It’s more, “If you can take the emotional abuse you can make it anywhere.” NYC has a certain kind of roughness.
The days before I gave notice to my job I was very angry; with my job, with the city, with the circumstances that NYC puts you in. It’s a very hard place to live even when you’re making decent money. Somehow the city never lets you feel like anything is easy. But maybe that’s why the triumphs feel so big. When I quit my job to travel I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to come back to NYC. It felt like it had beat me up a little bit and turned me into a negative person.
While I was traveling I met an Australian who asked where in the States I was from. I told him NYC and he replied immediately with, “Is it true New Yorkers are unfriendly?” My knee jerk reaction immediately was, “No of course not.” But then I really thought about it. South America moves at a much slower pace. Everyone asks how you are before you get down to business.
When I returned to the States I spent some time in Philadelphia and witnessed the food checkout guy making an entire conversation with someone he didn’t know just because. And I watched my friend making sure she greeted and said goodbye to every sales person we encountered while we went in and out of shops in Old City.
So it got me thinking that maybe NYC was unfriendly. One of my first full days back in the city I went to Gregory’s Coffee for my chai latte (I’m addicted). Walking up to the register I had a giant smile on my face and said, “Hi, how are you?” very vivaciously. The person at the register was not quite in the same mood and replied very unemotionally asking me what I wanted and not amused by the whole situation. It hit me like a ton of bricks, wow I’m back in NYC.
I had an equally rough first week back to office life.
But then my friend invited me to a music show in far out Brooklyn last minute in an amazing old theatre. And I spent a few days in NYC during the week exploring the Chelsea galleries and having mid afternoon drinks and I realized I was falling in love all over again.
When I started riding the subway again I realized I had missed the diversity of New York City. There is no other city in the entire world that has so many different kinds of people, food and such opportunity to skyrocket in any direction. And I forget to appreciate that. Every given night of the week there is something amazing happening in NYC even if I’m not embracing it at that moment. And that’s pretty special.
“My favorite thing about New York is the people, because I think they’re misunderstood. I don’t think people realize how kind New York people are.” -Bill Murray
I’ve been back in the States for a few months now and am trying to take a little more time to look around, observe and say hello. I don’t think that New Yorkers are intentionally unfriendly. I think they just have a bit of tunnel vision trying to get where they’ve wanted to go since they arrived here.
If you are able to slow them down enough you might just catch a quick glimpse of a real New Yorker. To quote Bill Murray, “My favorite thing about New York is the people, because I think they’re misunderstood. I don’t think people realize how kind New York people are.”
Even though I hate it with a fire sometimes, I truly believe that New York is the greatest city on earth. New York, I’m sorry I ever doubted it.
photo: via Unsplash