We’ve all seen the movies, heard the songs, and read the novels romanticizing the “greatest city in the world.” New York City is the Big Apple, the City, the Melting Pot where lives from all over converge to create a bustling metropolis of wonder, excitement and success. And aren’t those components what make the grand cliche of New York? Isn’t that why everyone has grown to revere this place? Well, it’s not for me and I’m willing to bet it isn’t for a lot of you too.
I want to be in New York because it is a city of brilliance. The city is bursting with inimitable musicians and engineers and journalists and politicians who defy all preconceived notions of what it means to be “intelligent.” It doesn’t matter whether you’re an Ivy or community college graduate or perhaps even sans degree, this city measures your brains by your brawn. If you have the drive, the passion, and the savvy, this city doesn’t tell you “no.”
I want to be in New York because it’s a hub. It’s a short LIRR ride from my home on the south shore of Nassau County. Seeing mom and dad is as simple as checking a train schedule. There are four airports within an hour from midtown. There are trains and buses and taxis in a constant state of flux. You’re never stuck here. One might say that knowing there is a way out of the city at any given moment makes it a melancholy and transitory sort of place. Another might say that it’s the most inviting sort of place because there’s also always a way back in. How full is your glass?
I want to be in New York because it’s what I want. I love this city for the reasons that are trite and naive and arrogant. I love being a regular at that restaurant on MacDougal and reading in a park while some stranger dances the merengue for money in front of me. I love bar-hopping in the East Village and spending half my paycheck at happy hour. I love going on terrible dates that end in tears and my friends pick up the pieces with a raucous night of karaoke. I love being able to have a job doing what I love, even though I’m struggling to pay off my student loans.
Being an overly typical twenty-something starting her life in New York is what I want. It doesn’t matter whether you’re of the crowd who thinks this life that I want is banal or guileless. It doesn’t matter if you’re of the crowd who thinks this life is splendid or admirable. The ineffability of the city of New York is the same as the ineffability of my love for New York. So, maybe why I want to be in New York is best said by a fellow New Yorker: “I don’t have any reasons. I left them all behind. I’m in a New York state of mind.”
This piece was originally published on The Huffington Post.