It’s creeping up on my four-month anniversary with this beast of a city. I lived here for a third of a year.
Be still my beating heart.
I moved here not knowing what I was getting myself into, much like every other time I’ve moved to a city where I knew little to no one.
The difference, though, is I didn’t just move here for the summer — I moved here indefinitely.
People ask me a lot about how I like the city, and although I’ve written about that before, I still really don’t know the best elevator pitch answer.
When I took a visit home in September for Labor Day, it was my first time back to Michigan in more than three months.
I was so happy to be home because I felt like I belonged.
That’s a thing about New York — you never really feel like you’re “home.” At least not for me.
You walk the streets as just a minuscule piece of a city bigger than you want to think about. You might find your niche at work and stand out in the office, but walking out the doors, you’re just another human hitting the daily grind to “make it”, which no one really even knows what that means.
It’s been difficult to be away from family, which is something I didn’t expect because I’ve always been independent and on my own for the past four years. I think the difference now is I just graduated from the futon life and bought a mattress, which is when you know you’re staying for awhile. Plans to move back to Michigan in a couple months are no longer an option like they were when I was only interning for a few months. Now it’s the real deal.
The main difference between living in the Midwest and living in New York is New York doesn’t hold your hand. If anything, it’s slowly chopping off your fingers until you figure out how to use what you have left to get by.
You become a tenacious, independent creature who doesn’t realize it until you’re barking orders at a cab driver for going the wrong way or bargaining for a better deal for rent.
Since moving here I’ve learned to immediately say no to things that make me uncomfortable or that I don’t want instead of sticking them out to be polite. But on the other hand, I’ve become more open to doing things because there are so many things to do.
You meet the people who’ve seen the struggle and live the struggle everyday. My eyes are met with an overwhelming amount of culture just riding the subway to work. It’s like a daily Rosetta Stone lesson. I see things that most people would shriek at but have become normal to me, like rats on the sidewalk or people screaming and pounding a wall, waiting for the train. You become desensitized when your senses are extremely overloaded.
In a city of 8.3 million, you also quickly learn how important it is to become your own best friend. There’s few people you can rely on and even fewer you can trust. The city doesn’t make you cold unless you let it, but you can let it happen real fast.
But the thing I still can’t get over about New York is that it’s a land of walking possibilities – that’s the complete attraction of it all.
You can be in a bar one minute while a random burlesque show starts to happen at your feet (true story) and the next, be meeting James Franco on the street.
There’s not another place in the U.S. I can name where I can have anything in the world delivered to my doorstep within minutes. Or anywhere else where if I lost my job tomorrow, I know I’d be employed again by the end of next week.
You can also wear literally anything you want and people won’t flinch at you (unless they’re tourists, God bless). I once walked 10 blocks with a sweater wrapped around my head because it was raining but once the downpour stopped, I just got too lazy to take it off and I looked like I was wearing a babushka. And I didn’t even think twice about it.
You’re accepted here as much as you don’t feel like you belong. It’s finding the self-acceptance that this is not a temporary thing that I’m still working on.
Until then, it’s still like an extended vacation but now with a big kid mattress.