Reflecting on NYC

Empire State of MindLet’s talk about New York City.

I remember the very first time I visited the city, feeling surprised at how “at home” I felt.  It was certainly overwhelming – I spent my first night walking around Times Square by myself, discovering Sephora, wishing I knew where all the Broadway theatres were and what was playing, and feeling very alone.  (This was before I had a smartphone, unbelievably enough!)  Yet the city made sense to me.  People either love New York or hate it.  Given that I enjoyed it during a cold, rainy January visit for a job I didn’t get, I had a feeling I’d love it.

When we finally moved here, I felt like I’d found the missing puzzle piece to myself.  Finally, a city where EVERYONE was hustling (the good kind of hustling), where the natives walked on the streets the way I’ve walked since junior high, where my dreams were actually possible, if I could just get up the courage to pursue them.

Make no mistake: the city is hard and nasty and cruel at times.  You have to love New York to live here, because otherwise the crazy homeless guys on the subway, the putrescent garbage juice smell on Eighth Avenue, and the crush of human bodies wherever you go will be unbearable.  As it is, you learn to block those miseries out for the most part, while at the same time appreciating how they make you feel alive and even grateful for the good you have.

You also learn the importance of taking a vacation away from the city.  When I lived in the suburbs, I never particularly noticed if I went years without taking a real vacation.  But the few times I’ve tried to go longer than a year without leaving the city, I’ve destroyed myself emotionally and even physically.  It’s just one of those differences of city life from suburban life for which I don’t have a good explanation.

So I was curious how I would react coming back to New York after eight months of being away.  Would I love it or hate it, having spent so much time in Alaska and Hawaii and California and Mexico?

To my joy, it was like being enveloped in a big hug from a loving mother.  Not that the city noticed I was gone (ha!), but more that I just fit here in the city – and I’m glad to be back.  Looking at the lights across the Hudson brings a warm glow to my heart only rivalled by the burning joy I feel upon seeing the Rocky Mountains back in Colorado.

However, it appears I have lost my tolerance for one aspect of city living: the noise.  I hadn’t realized how quiet the cruise ship was!  I have always had slightly sensitive ears, but now it’s ridiculous.  The screech of emergency vehicles by our apartment window is actually painful, and the endless din of cars and people on the sidewalks is overwhelming. I’m thinking I may need to start wearing my headphones as earplugs anytime I’m walking around the city – just to hang on to my peace.  Thankfully we’re looking at moving apartments in the next couple months, so that should help as well.

Interestingly, my husband has noticed the same thing, and he doesn’t even have a cruise ship to blame.  He has lost his tolerance for the noise level the same way I have.  I don’t know if this is a result of getting older (how long till we yell at kids to get off our lawn??) or just having opened our thought to moving, but the noise pollution has just hit us both at the same time.  It’s fascinating how we change over time, isn’t it?

photo credit: Empire State of mind via photopin (license)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *