Dear New York,
Today we hit a big milestone. 4 years together! It’s the longest relationship I’ve been in since 2009 and looking back on the last 4 years, one of the best. New York, you are exhilarating, exhausting and ever-changing and today I want to reflect on what our relationship has meant to me.
I remember when we first met. It was 2005, I was living in California and I flew to New York City before heading out to the Hamptons for my cousin’s wedding. It was a whirlwind 24 hours with my family of Ellis Island, Central Park, The Met, Times Square, Fifth Avenue and Battery Park. I got my first taste of this city and I started to get hooked. I didn’t return again until 2008 again for work and then again, and again and again. To visit for fun, for events, for meetings and for Fashion Week. I found that every time I was in New York I fell in love a bit more and returning home to San Francisco I would find my mind constantly wandering back to New York. A slew of six hour flights with nothing to think about but what life would be like on the other coast…
By 2010 I knew I wanted to make the time I spent in New York more permanent. I got a new job, I booked a one way ticket and on February 2, 2011 I landed in New York to a new apartment, a new office, very few friends and a totally blank chapter ahead of me.
New York, I so often hear people say “I could never live there/here” about you, but I regularly thank God that I made the leap to head East. Sure, New York, you aren’t always that glamorous. In fact, you are often gritty, smelly, too crowded, things take too long to get done and you can be downright cruel sometimes. If I’m being honest, sometimes I just don’t get you.
But when I think about the impression you’ve left on me, I smile. I feel as though I have lived such an important chapter of my life here in this city. It is a city people all over the world dream about living in or visiting and I get to live here. That is something I often think about when the goings get tough. New York, you have challenged me like I’ve never been challenged before. You’ve seen me experience sheer joy (a new job! new apartments! birthday celebrations! friends visiting! friends getting married!) and utter devastation (jobs not received, being sick alone, being far from family at times, being evacuated from an apartment never to return again, receiving tough medical news, missing out on opportunities, surgeries and experiencing loss.) We’ve survived two hurricanes together, an earthquake and countless blizzards. You’ve seen me at my lowest low, you’ve seen me through some 20 odd lbs here and there and you’ve seen me on the days I just don’t want to face the world. But you’ve kept me going…
New York, you keep me on my toes. And when you knock me off my feet, you help me regain my composure. For every rough day (for example when I can’t move on a crowded subway or I’m caught in a rainstorm without an umbrella or I’ve had an utterly awful day at work or I’m being particularly hard on myself), you find a way to lift my spirits. You’ll remind me to take deep breaths and to rediscover what I love about the city by inviting me to have a day that reignites that magic between us. You’ve made me stronger and you’ve taught me very important lessons. I’ve discovered so much more about myself since moving here and I continue to feel more and more ownership over who I am becoming.
So New York, while we’re in love, I do have a few things to take up with you:
I wish you’d be less expensive. Seriously, I leave my house and it’s like $20 immediately leaves my wallet. Also I’d really love for drinks to be single dollar digits. The $16 cocktails are delicious but not that delicious.
Lessen the lines. People. Everywhere! For everything. All the time. I remember waiting an hour for a spray tan nearly 4 years ago – never again. (Never again probably for the spray tan and the waiting in line for something so pointless for so long.)
Make normalcy easier. I have to climb some 80-90 stairs every time I do laundry (I live in a 5th floor walk up). And grocery shopping can be a nightmare.
Get the trash issue in order. My god, there is so much garbage! On the streets at all times and smelling up the air in the hot summer sun.
Your accommodations leave a lot to be desired. They don’t have storage closets and you made me revisit bed risers. Your closets are ridiculously small. Actually everything is small for that matter. And I hemorrhage money to live in it.
But with all that, here’s what I utterly love about you…
Convenience. I can order a bagel to my bed when I have a hangover. Or soup and Sprite when I’m sick. There are plenty of 24 hour pharmacies when you need them, a multitude of transportation options and things always seem to be open (even on holidays a lot of the time!)
Your views. This skyline of yours, it is like nothing else. I remember when I first started visiting for work. I’d get my first glimpse of the skyline as my taxi sped towards Manhattan and I’d feel that stomach flip you get when you’re in love (or on a roller-coaster…) Want to know something super special to me? That feeling hasn’t gone away. I still land, head towards home, see that view & feel my heart full of happiness.
The neighborhoods. I never get tired of exploring! There’s always something new to see, taste, hear. I adore having my favorite spots in so many different parts across this island. No two days in New York are ever the same and I absolutely love that. And I can walk practically anywhere. Thank you for being mostly flat, New York.
Your seasons. The air in Spring is pure magic. And the colors of the leaves in the Fall is pretty close to perfection by Mother Nature in my opinion. You celebrate Christmas like no other place on earth. You look beautiful in freshly fallen snow. And in summer you let us seek out activities that let us cool off (escapes to the shore or the Hamptons! The Circle Line!) Summer in New York may be hot and sticky but there’s nothing like the excitement by the inhabitants here during those three months.
Your secrets. I feel like we’ve had 4 years of secrets, whispered back and forth between one another. You know my favorite spots and what bothers me most. You know when I am near the end of my rope and you invite me to explore more. You remind me to not get too frustrated. You suddenly surprise me on days with the most unanticipated of situations. You constantly delight me. And you know when I silently tell myself “I get to live here. I am so lucky.”
Your company. New York, you keep excellent company. The talent here is unparalleled and you’ve introduced me to people that make me want to be better. To be smarter and work harder. You’ve brought into my life some of the best people I know and people I can’t imagine life without now. And you really reel in the goods. High school friends in for business that I get to catch up with as a result. Friends that visit yearly. A younger brother that moved here after graduation. And that’s just the love for the people that I know. The city is covered in wonderful people who are interesting and have lovely stories to tell. In the city that never sleeps, you really never know who you will meet and in the years I’ve lived here I have tried to remind myself that everyone has a cross that they bear or a burden and so I am doing my best to exercise patience and be kinder (even to those people that steal cabs from you or step on your foot in the subway and don’t apologize…insert deep breaths.)
You open lots of doors. Thanks to your location so much is in my reach. I’ve gotten to visit Nantucket, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New Jersey, The Hamptons, New Hampshire and you’re a close flight some from favorite places like Chicago, Miami & Europe. You also keep me constantly inspired and wanting to see more, do more. That’s a pretty great quality I’ve got to say.
Your food. New York, you definitely are to blame for the extra pounds I carry around but man, it is near impossible to find a bad tasting calorie in this city and for that I am grateful. I have so many favorites (ABC Kitchen, Buvette, Caracas, Gemma, Locande Verde…I could go on and on) and I never stop enjoying the new places I experience. My food & cocktail bucket list is always growing and let me tell you, I revel in the fact that I am not “rushed” to get to everything. Since I live here I get to savor trying something new whenever I please. And you introduced me to love breakfast sandwiches and black and white cookies and banana pudding…life wasn’t quite complete without those.
So like any home, you take the good with the bad. You celebrate and you suffer but I have to say, New York, you’ve really made a dream of mine come true – it’s something not everyone can say and I am beyond happy that I am able to. I think a key to living here is to not let this city make you bitter or break you down. You can’t let the actions from others set you back or leave a lingering bad taste in your mouth. I’ve learned it’s ok to have bad days, it’s ok to cry. All of us buzzing around you, New York – we’re all only human. We’re bound to break sometimes. But what you’ve taught me is that this city will repair you afterwards, if you let it. New York can help you turn weaknesses into strength and into lessons. And every day I learn a little something here…that’s pretty damn special.
In closing, New York City…I don’t know where I’d be or who I fully was without you. So I say thank you for an incredible four years…and for everything.
[Photos by myself & Bekka Palmer]