Dear New York,
“One belongs to New York instantly,one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”– Thomas Wolfe
Happy Anniversary! Five years ago today, I boarded a Greyhound bus in Boston and headed in your direction. I had two suitcases, a laptop bag, and a new job lined up. I did not, however, have a place to stay that night – a situation which remedied itself via a phone call to a friend-of-a-friend on the ride down, a little logistical detail I never mentioned to my parents. (Moving to the big city without a place to stay is not the sort of thing parents like to hear about, you know.)
After crashing on that friend-of-a-friend’s couch on the Upper East Side, I shared a sublet studio in Washington Heights with a friend, and then – finally – I moved to Murray Hill and had a New York address of my very own. I had arrived.
You and I became fast friends. Mostly because I spent so much time that first year inside my office, leaving little time to make actual friends. But you let me hang out with you on the weekends – wandering down your streets, learning your ways. You made me an explorer – I discovered Indian food in Murray Hill, learned Hebrew in the West Village, visited a Hare Krishna temple in Alphabet City, sought solitude in a park on your northern shore.
Soon, out-of-town friends came for a visit, remarking that I navigated the subway system like a pro. (“Aha!” I thought, “I’m getting it!”) I showed you off, I bragged about your many charms, I played favorites. (“Let’s go to my favorite coffee shop,” “This is my favorite place for bagels,” etc. etc.)
Sometimes we fought, as I discovered just how mean your streets could be - when subway delays made me late for work, when I stepped in god-knows-what on the sidewalk, when a flippin’ box of cereal cost $6, when water bugs invaded my shoebox-sized apartment, or when I almost got run over by that pretzel cart.
But I have a hard time staying mad at you. Like an abused spouse, I usually apologize for the problem (“It was my fault…I expected too much…You didn’t mean it…You’re so nice after the storms pass.”) I see the top of the Chrysler Building shining, and all is forgiven. You glitter and gleam and I forget the hard stuff and come crawling back for more.
I can’t remember what I was hoping for, when I first arrived. Certainly I know things haven’t always gone as planned. Certainly I know I didn’t expect to be where I am now – working at this job, still in this single season of life. But I also couldn’t have imagined what wonders you would provide – hip-hop classes, box seats at a Shakira concert, deep friendships, weird connections, trips to the opera, Zabar’s Chocolate Babka, the opportunity to stand on your stages and perform improv.
You're full of surprises. The past five years have been one wild ride.
Happy Anniversary, New York.