After writing this little paragraph, I was inspired to develop it into a longer piece. This is what came out of that thought-process.
To live in New York City is to love and hate your life all at the same time. New York has this ineffable way of giving you these insane highs that make you remember why you came in the first place and then in a flash, you’ve been rained on, you’re flat broke, and the concrete’s never felt colder. The true New Yorker knows this to be the norm and that embracing this fact early is the only way to survive.
Some New Yorkers live “classic” New York lives – they work nine to five jobs making nice corporate sums of money, they know subway lines as if they were old childhood haunts, and they get drinks with friends every Saturday night. They buy expensive clothes, get brunch, and commiserate together, pretending to be Carrie Bradshaw as they cry into their respective Cosmopolitans, knowing full well that they are the quintessence of desperation. They have seemingly dramatic relationships that they dwell on daily in their perfect little mundane cubicles. They read the Times and the Journal and they’re well versed in the most up-to-the-minute politics. They had a stance on Occupy Wall Street that was not particularly favorable because they didn’t like people bothering them during lunch. They’ve seen all the best plays, eaten at every place highly rated on Zagat, and they can rattle off the works they’ve seen in the Guggenheim, the Met, and MoMa, faster than you can say, “Jeff Koons.” They aren’t New Yorkers.
Real New Yorkers know about those people and they despise their existence. Real New Yorkers work in jobs with obscene hours that make no normal sleep schedule physically possible, they make little money, live in meager apartments, and are constantly kicking to keep their heads above water. They scrounge for money to go out and drink away their problems on the one night a month they have free, they barely make rent so they eat Ramen daily, and their goal in New York is just to “make it,” but no one’s really quite sure what that means. They have idyllic dreams that include large penthouses and luxurious clothing and trips to the opera. They read the weeklies at the newsstand, without paying for them, while they wait for the subway between jobs and going home and pretending to have a social life. They know all about the hottest restaurants that are neglected in the papers, the hottest clubs that even socialites don’t know about, and the most enriching museums that house more than just Jan Van Eyck. They love everything New York has to offer yet there’s never any time or money to take it all in.
The real New Yorker wants with all their might to explore, discover, and frolic in the skyscraper playground of Manhattan and they can’t right now but they have the hopeless confidence that one day, they will. The real New Yorker will want to pack up their things every other day and go somewhere else. But the real New Yorker will never leave because they know there’s just too much to learn.