Lately I seem to be encountering a rash of people eager to hear how happy I am to have “escaped” New York City.
Aren’t you glad to be out? You can’t miss anything about New York… right?
I worry I may have been a bit overdramatic in airing my frustrations with the city.
Honestly, these folks are probably just remembering the day I took Charlie Mae the Wonderpup on the walk from Hell. She was nearly run over by a taxi, tried to eat a cockroach scurrying from a pile of sidewalk trash, and then was challenged to some sort of street fight by a hissing, rabid sewer rat who jumped up the curb and dared her- with its glinty, beady eyes- to ‘bring it, bitch.’
I had some words with New York City that day.
The truth is that while I love being a Californian (I’ll take earthquakes over polar vortices any day), there are plenty of things I miss about living in Manhattan.
Sewer rats notwithstanding.
1. Productive travel time.
I hate driving in LA. Hate it.
Sure, the rush hour subway forced me to cozy up to random strangers in a manner that blurred the lines of sexual harassment. But this is forgiven when you realize how much you can accomplish en route. So much time to read: whole books were devoured!
Even walking was productive because, hey, at least I’m exercising.
Here in LA, the most productivity I can squeeze out of a commute involves listening to NPR and perfecting creative new swear words when I gets the road rage. (And I gets it bad.)
2. Being lazy.
Don’t get me wrong. Living in NYC requires a ton of work. For one thing, it’s absurdly expensive. So it actually does require a ton of work.
But it’s the smaller things. Day-to-day things like grocery shopping and parking and walking the dog demand strategery, cunning, and sometimes brute force, as you elbow your way through the masses.
Adventuring? Not so much.
I recently wrote about the ease of lazy adventuring in New York City, and it’s true.
All you need for a good time in Manhattan are comfy shoes and a healthy sense of spontaneity. Opportunities for fun fling themselves at you with ridiculous frequency.
3. The FOOD.
My friends are sick of hearing uber-obnoxious things like “hmm, I’d rate that restaurant a 7 out of 10… but that’s on an LA scale. In NYC, it’d be a 4.”
I’m that person now.
And frankly, I wouldn’t want to eat with me, either.
I’ve straight-up argued with food & wine editor friends over this one (sorry, Jess), but food in NYC is The Best Food Around. I remember visiting Paris with Mr. M and marveling over how everything- everything!– was the new very-best-thing-I’d-ever-put-in-my-mouth. From a fancy restaurant, a street cart, or a museum cafe- it didn’t matter, the food was all AMAZING.
New York is no Paris, but I dare say it’s the next closest thing. If it isn’t really, really tasty… it doesn’t survive in Manhattan.
4. The anonymity.
It was one of the things I hated about living in Manhattan. Fellow Manhattanites would look at me like I was a deranged psychopath when I smiled good morning or- gasp- said it aloud.
It’s an odd & lonely feeling when people push past you all day without a second glance.
I began to feel invisible.
And in a way, I was.
And in another way, the invisibility was something special.
It meant I could wear whatever I liked (flamingo-printed headscarf with Crocs, hellz yeah!), say whatever I thought, and completely ignore people before I’d had my coffee… without anyone thinking less of me!
I love returning to the land of the civil head nod as you pass someone else on the street… but every now and again, I miss being anonymous.
And making a beeline for my morning Starbucks without so much as a how-d’ya-do.
5. Shopping wisely.
Spiderman knew: with great power comes great responsibility.
And apparently I cannot handle the newfound power of being able to drive my groceries home because last week I came home with a 5-pack of sunscreen. Sun protection is no joke, but… a 5 pack??
When you physically have to carry every single thing you buy through the streets in all manner of inclement weather… you think twice about what you require to be a happy, functioning human.
When I shopped in NYC, I knew exactly what items I needed; going off-list meant lugging another pound on the twenty minute walk home. Plus, as I learned when I recently returned to live like a temporary local, most Manhattan apartments don’t have pantry space for luxury stockpiling.
I’m never going to miss that unfortunate mix of body odor and rotten Chinese takeout wafting out of the subway on steamy summer days. And while the dog might miss chasing cockroaches, I prefer our laidback strolls on the beach.
But NYC is so different from any other city that you’re bound to miss a few of the aspects that make it uniquely… New York.
She’s a one of a kind.
And I can’t say I don’t miss her.
What do you think you’d miss about your hometown?