Life Stories USA

I Love New York, I Think?

i love new york

I was randomly inspired to re-watch season 1 of Sex and The city yesterday. Maybe it was partly because of my own personal “Mr. Big” love war, or because I had started getting my groove back by talking to a girlfriend about my love life while sippin’ on rosé, overlooking the Hudson. Whatever really prompted me to click “play” had me wondering if there was anyway I could jumpstart my love affair with New York City again.

A few episodes in and I was hooked for the same reasons I dreamed of moving to the city as a 16 year old. Only now, at 25, the dream is much more attainable. Still I wondered if “the dream” was worth the nightmarish rent. When I left New York I knew the chapter wasn’t fully over, but I had no desire of turning the page to see how the story ended.

This time around, a full quarter of life under my belt, and more than 21 questions in my mind pondering if my experience in New York would somehow be different if I gave it another try.

See, that’s the thing about being nomadic, you know deep down you could thrive anywhere if you commit to it.

How ironic, since the last thing a nomad wants to think about is committing.

What I did know was I was in the greatest city of all (questionable, considering all the things most people despise about it), living it up all summer long. My trip had actually been extended unexpectedly; a pleasant surprise, considering my heart is also here. I rolled with the punches, and took the panel I was speaking on in LA being canceled as a sign that I should give New York another try. At least for as long as I could put up with the overpriced everything.

I have to admit, it took me a while to find the happy bits of the city that made the struggle worthwhile. Two years ago, I had convinced myself that New York was no place for a creative person who wanted to work for themselves, because the prices in rent would hold you captive to a life of work, sleep, repeat until the end of time.

Now, I was challenging myself to see a different perspective: what if the city wasn’t as crappy as I had convinced myself it was when I was lugging my bags to La La Land?

Out goes my mentality that New York is the absolute last place I want to be on earth, in comes late nights, greasy pizza, and epic stories.

See that’s the thing, just when you think you have it all figured out, you realize it could all change. You, your perspective, your experience, your vision for the future – it’s all fluid.

And while that may sound intimidating, I took it as a welcome invitation to enjoy my last weeks in New York as if I had plans on returning to live here, because who knows right?

A few days after my Sex and the City binge, I figured I’d take my research “on-site” to see if I was cut out for a New York life 2.0. I figured the perfect place to start looking for the spark of Manhattan was on a rooftop bar in the Meatpacking District, at around 7 PM just as the sunset transformed the sky into an explosive array of warm colors. The clientele of the rooftop somehow displayed yuppies even more colorful, all running rampant.

i love new york

It was my best friend Diana’s birthday celebration. We had started the night off in an overpriced meditation studio, where you paid $22 to listen to a pre-recording of an Australian woman guiding you through 45 minutes of an interruptive attempt of helping us find inner peace (something I could’ve done in my room for free), only to be sold on signing up for three more classes – which I politely passed on. Namaste, but no thank you.

The only way to cope with the hole in our pockets from spending money on something  so quintessentially bougie, was to go from meditation, straight into the madness of a Friday night on 14th and 8th.

There we were, in the midst of well-dressed 20-somethings, half fitting in. Every individual with their own flare, rocking everything from pink bangs and bright yellow platform shoes, to cellophane jackets and Jetson-looking sunglasses.

The night was young, and so were we, simply celebrating life.

Sure, life in New York is hard, but people definitely know how to commemorate another day of it.

Diana’s roommate bought us a pitcher of a girly, yet strong cocktail for the two Cancerians turning a quarter of a century – shout out to 25. We toasted to the sunset, and I sat there analyzing if I had it in me to play this game again. The New York nightlife game where your liver keeps losing, as does your wallet, for questionable gains in friendships and cool points.

Rooftops were fun, but it all felt like it could blow away as quickly as the breeze came and went. Nothing solid, nothing to last you beyond the night, except for the ridiculous credit card bill you’d have to deal with in the morning.

But with good friends, that typical ending of a night out in Manhattan was rewritten.

Below the rooftop was, of course, your standard hot tub in the middle of a dance floor, because leave it to Manhattan to do the most. Le Bain was completely empty, that was usually the 3 AM spot where people were tipsy enough to get into the water and not question the immediate need to seek medical attention for the potential cooties they might get. But we were there, forming a dance circle and dancing with strangers to 80s techno music. Zero effs given at who was watching us lurk the dance floor like fools, it was freeing, and best of all, free to dance – thank God.

i love new york

We took a mirror pic with an Australian girl who’d been looking for her friends, and exchanged laughs with a middle-aged man named Barry who was grooving completely alone, just ready for a good time. All these encounters reminded me of how common and natural human interaction was here – a foreign concept in most other places. A night in the city guaranteed you’d meet interesting characters who were more than willing to share a moment with you, a complete stranger – a perk I haven’t found anywhere else.

Eventually, we felt the “cool factor” leaving the room as quickly as the AC did. Out we went, to scope out our next destination. Usually, you go out with promoters that allow you to drink for free as a woman, for simply showing up – because that’s fair. But this time, we were so out of the scene that we had to pay the price via drinks, and size-ups from bouncers who hold God like powers, or so they think.

At around 12 AM, the crowds just beginning to prowl on the cobblestone streets, we decided our next best bet would be the rooftop of the Gansevoort hotel.

Hold onto your panties for this next thing you’re about to read. Promise you won’t hate me as much as I hate me for the following?

Ok, brace yourself.

I decided to get the next round of drinks to pay Diana’s roommate back for the pitcher. The bar was empty, and moments later so was my damn wallet.

“Three shots of Patron please.”

“Would you like the shots chilled?”

My dumbass says what should never be said to a bartender who’s trying to up-sell you on drinks worth 1/16th of the cost you’re paying, for simply drinking out in public.

“Sure, whatever’s easiest.”

Or easiest to give me a heart attack.

She shakes a metal shaker, and pours three shots over ice. When I saw her type in $20 PER SHOT, my eyes almost popped out of my head like in the cartoons.

There it was, the epitome of a New York night being washed down with a $20 chilled shot of Patron.

How bittersweet.

I limped away from the scene with leg pains due to intense dancing and because of the financial cripple factor I had just experienced. But in a super New York way, I couldn’t stop smiling at the ecosystem of happenings you only seem to find on the city streets.

The night came to an end on a stoop while eating Artichoke pizza, laughing one of those rich laughs that only happen about once a month if you’re lucky. The culprit: poor Diana’s roommate taking a tumble with her pizza in hand, and the random club-goers passing by gasping “oh my God, the pizza!” Clearly, another quintessential New York thing to experience: a drunk person’s love of pizza. Who cared if bones were broken? What the people really wanted to know was if the pizza made it out unscratched, because in a city like this, sometimes priorities get warped, and the psychology behind it had me cracking up.

Like all great lovers, New York has a way of getting under your skin. But even in the lowest lows, she always has you crawling back for more. Will the madness of Manhattan make its comeback into my life?

Maybe. Just maybe.

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  • Anthony

    Okay y’all are scaring me, you talking about moving back to New York and Damon mentioning about living in London… like what y’all doing to my feelings right now?!?!!

  • I’m from London and I went to New York for the first time in June and I’m absolutely in loooove with NYC!!! Everyone is so much more friendly and sociable than the people in London. I’m planning on getting my shit together and moving there maybe next year. Thanks for sharing your stories 🙂

    • Rachel M

      Yes, some people are friendly in NYC. But, a lot of people are really standoffish and quite rude too. If you truly want to live somewhere where people are really friendly and kind, do yourself a favor and move to the Midwest.

  • Rijalo

    My gahd you are just to amazing a writer Jo! Everytime i read one of your posts I get chillllz!

    I aspire to be like you one day on my blog https://notyourplace.net

    • Rijalo

      And you had me at ‘financial cripple factor” hahaha

  • Rachel M

    Haha this is a great read. I happened upon living in NYC at the end of last year (where I am now). I never thought I would like it in the first place but I thought it might be fun. And maybe, at age 25 it would be. I do think it’s highly overrated and I think it’s borderline insane what rent costs versus what you get. The city is dirty and expensive and you rely on unreliable transportation. You don’t get personal space or much alone time (depending on living situation). But, I know it’s totally worth it for some people!

  • Mike D

    As a lifelong New Yorker, I am sometimes envious of people who travel to NYC. All the things that you described in this article, the magic little moments that make this city so great, aren’t as enchanting when you experience them on a daily basis. I’m just curious if your burgeoning love of NYC is due to having been away for a few years and the city now seeming novel again (as a fellow nomad at heart, I know novelty is the most exciting part of traveling)

    25 is a great age to be here (I’m also 25), but mostly if you can partake in all the city has to offer without constantly worrying about your finances. Much easier said than done, I know.

    Best of luck with whatever you decide tho.

    P.S. been following you guys for a while now and never realized how dope of a writer you were!

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