If you have ever been curious about what it’s like to live in New York City, you might enjoy reading the post 101 Reasons Why You Have Not Truly Lived Until You’ve Lived in NYC on Wonder Sonder.
I mention this because, having lived in New York City, I am impressed by how the author’s points express so well why I never wish to live there again. Despite the plethora of cultural advantages of the Big Apple, I’ll take California, thank you. I prefer the whistle of a freight train late at night to the insistent screech and rumble of the subway. I prefer listening to wind on a rainy night to the constant honking of cars and blaring of sirens in the city that never sleeps. I prefer a frog surprising me from around the corner or the chirping of crickets to a rat surprising me in the lobby and roaches slumming in my bathroom. I think you get the picture.
For the sake of brevity (as if I know the meaning of the word), as well as because I am unfamiliar with many of the specific bars, restaurants and clubs listed, I will cover only thirteen of the author’s points here.
1. NYC will make you resilient to loss and pain. And this is a good thing? Since when? To be effective as a writer (or just as a decent human being), it is necessary to feel deeply, to drink of the draught not only of your own pain, but also to empathize and console the loss of others. So if you’re attracted by the prospect of living in a zombieland where everyone looks straight ahead and takes no heed of the suffering all about them, I would say NYC is for you.
2. And build up a veneer of courage and compassion. “Veneer” being the key word. In NYC, everyone wears a mask. It’s a great big game of “let’s pretend.” It is so easy to be out for no one but yourself while maintaining the utterly false pretense of giving a damn about anyone else. You don’t have to worry about loving your neighbor when you neither know nor care who lives across the hall from you.
3. When I say the subway is tight, I also mean it’s supercool and works 24 hours a day. Didn’t your mama ever teach you that nothing good happens after midnight? Go to bed! (I don’t take my own advice on this one, but at least I stay home.)
4. Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building have some pretty spectacular views. And indeed they do. Hence, on my Los Angeles cousins’ most recent visit to NYC with the kids, they paid to be whisked to the top of the Empire State Building, arriving just in time to watch a young man climb over the barriers and commit suicide by jumping off. At least it only cost $27 per adult ticket (trauma counseling not included).
5. Street fairs are epic. County fairs are even more epic.
6. You will realize that there are worse things than rats on the subway. Really? Name one.
7. Authentic fruits and vegetables from all over the world. Could this be because the only thing home-grown in NYC is misery? How about authentic fruits and vegetables, the best in the world, from right here in California? Locavores carry no weight in Manhattan.
8. Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s and Saks and all the other stores you’ve grown up hearing about. Been there, done that. Overpriced, staffed by uncaring snoots, a pain in the butt to find anything and, overall, pretty boring.
9. Finding a food craving, like fresh Portobello mushrooms, in your local bodega at 5 a.m. I can get them cheaply any day of the week at Smart ‘n Final. Besides, who eats mushrooms for breakfast? Oh, I see, you haven’t been to bed yet? See #3.
10. Bars stay open until 4 a.m. Haven’t you seen #3 yet??
11. Your heart swells with pride when you give complicated directions on the Lower East Side. My heart swells with pride when I figure out how to get around the Highway 70 construction to drive to Yuba City.
12. Hot chocolate at the Plaza Hotel after a blizzard. Iced tea on the porch when it’s 90 degrees. Pass the lemon, please. (And no snow shoveling! Woohoo!)
13. You don’t need to tolerate idiots. What was that saying about the pot and the kettle again? Tolerance is not a big thing in NYC. Everyone thinks he or she is the final arbiter on all things. Disagree and you are an “idiot.” (I expect to be called one now.)
I am tempted to go on, but I think that’s enough for now. There are many lovely things about New York City, and visiting at least once is worthy of anyone’s bucket list. Gawk to your heart’s content and be sure to take plenty of photos.
And when you’re tired of empty stares, empty souls and your empty wallet, c’mon home.
We’ll be waiting for you.