Moving is exhausting you guys. It’s been a crazy busy week but I’m enjoying Chicago so far and trying to get settled. Got any tips on Chicago living? Let me hear them!
What was surprising to me was how hard it was to say goodbye to the people who work at the local places I shop. Their familiar friendly faces greeted me every time I ran down the street to get coffee (“it’s supposed to be nice out this weekend”), picked up a bottle of wine for a party (“are you having people over for brunch?”), or bought a new book (“I think you’d like this one”).
They assured me there are fun things to do in Chicago–my coffee shop’s other office is there, the leader of my book group knows the manager at a Chicago bookstore, the man who runs the wine store said Chicago has really fun beer gardens–but are Chicagoans as friendly and warm? (I’m sure they will be.)
What wasn’t surprising at all was how hard it was to say goodbye to my friends. (The best thing about New York seems to be the people in it.) Thank you guys for your love, for teaching me how to be a better friend, and for filling New York with wonderful memories.
The nonhuman thing I’ll miss the most, though, is the skyline. Even still it’s beautiful, I can’t get used to it. On the way to my train I can see the Statue of Liberty if I look to the right. My office has a breathtaking view of the Brooklyn bridge. On the walk to my local coffee shop, I can look up and see the new World Trade Center.
The Empire State Building is my favorite thing to pick out of that skyline. If I can see that, I know where I am. I know what’s uptown or downtown, which way is east or west. What if I’m lost when I lose sight of it?
Luckily, I have a few people I love to show me the way to Chicago. I even have a GPS for the trip. And for everything that comes after that, I guess I’ll have to wait and see. (But I can’t wait!)
My friends and I used to say that the highs in New York are very high and the lows are very low. This is true literally–we have both the Empire State Building and the subway–but we meant it figuratively. The high you feel making new friends on a beautiful rooftop you didn’t know existed a few hours ago is amazing. As is the giant party the city turns into every year on every holiday. My favorite is Marathon day where my friends and I celebrate other people’s athleticism by cheering them on and getting drunk brunch. But the lows are terribly, terribly low.
Public crying and puking are kind of a joke to New Yorkers–we’ve all been there, we just won’t all tell you about it. You don’t always have a car to retreat to or an easy (or private) route home. Groceries are heavy and winter is the worst. I can’t explain the awfulness of New York winters. It’s dark and cold and dreary and your friends are hours away on a cold, dark, dreary train and your tiny apartment can only hold you for so long before you go insane but insane is better than waiting for a bus that may never come with a fever you can’t shake. We’ve all had days where going home is an epic tale of bad weather, crowded trains, pickpockets, and violence. You’ve heard these stories before. Mine aren’t new.
I find myself telling my friends not to come. “It’s too hard. It’s way harder than you think.” “It’s too cold and too expensive.” But what I can’t quite articulate is how this city has a unique way of completely kicking your ass when you’re down. How many other cities actually fight back? Actually actively try to kick you out, like you’re a virus invading its system?
And yet. My favorite thing about New York is probably what others hate the most. It really doesn’t give a fuck. So I can do what I want and wear what I want and go where I want, and, you know what, it doesn’t matter. The city doesn’t care. It’s allowed me to relax and just be what I want to be. I started knitting as a way to pass the time in a small apartment where I live alone. I love it. Other people like it, and some people don’t. I see it on the train. There is always someone worse at it than me and always someone better. The same applies to my hair or my clothes or whatever other activity I’ve picked up. So relax. Stop trying to be the best–someone else has it covered. Just do your thing. You’ll fit right in because no one fits in. It’s perfect in its carelessness.
And when the city doesn’t care, the people do. One of my favorite nights out in the city was a Sunday night where me and my friends took over a corner of a bar and just hung out. We danced and chatted and shots were poured and stories were shared. I think it was raining, but we didn’t mind. We just made some friends and passed the time and tipped our bartender. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions. People might not know, but the ones that do are eager to share the city. (I’m convinced that people like to help out to prove they know more about New York than you do. Don’t hold it against them.) I once saw an entire subway car help a tourist get directions in their own language. That sense of community and that we’re all in this together is overwhelmingly fun.
New York doesn’t define me, but it’s helped me be me. I could go somewhere else and be happy, and I miss my family a lot. I believe other places are just as valid and almost always more logical than New York. I’m not married to the city, but we’ve had a very torrid affair. Well, on my end anyway. New York probably doesn’t care.
2 of my best friends helped me pack 21 boxes (and I’m not done yet). Thank you Meredith and Laura! Your help and company was magical.
Frozen played on my TV 5 times.
I bought 70 feet of bubble wrap.
We had, er, many drinks. (if you look carefully, you can see an empty wine bottle.)
I have 7 days left in New York.
I read 8 articles on the TV show Hannibal. You could say I’m interested.
(I lied. I played Frozen 7 times. You know when you just want some background noise?)
And #fatcat took countless naps in his new cage, which will be his temporary home during the trip.