There are many things that I hate about New York City. I hate the pigeons, the rats, and the abundance of dog excrement on the streets. I hate the hot stickiness of the subway platforms, and the way taxi drivers take liberty with your life. I hate the trash that gets piled up along the sidewalk, regardless of whether it’s trash day or not. But most of all, I hate the smells. I hate the smell of wet, grimy New York after it rains in the summer. I hate the salty, sweaty smell of people standing too close in the subway. I hate the smell that sneaks up on you, all of a sudden, as you turn a corner and oh!, that is nasty. New York is full of these unpleasant surprises, where pigeons can grow to be as tall as man, and the alley behind a seafood restaurant can force passersby into wind sprints.
But there are also many aspects of the city that I love. I love street vendors, Central Park, and overlooking the skyline on a warm summer evening. I love happy hours that can last from 4 pm to 4 am. I love how a single restaurant can have an artsy scene, and a punk scene, and a hipster scene, and a pop-your-collar banker scene. I love the unconscious mixing of all different people and different backgrounds into one, into a unique New York City culture that can be best described as a clusterfuck, a word that can only be said seriously in New York’s executive boardrooms.
However, above everything else, I love the chatter in the city. I love the crazy people talking to themselves on the subway. I love the snippets of conversation I hear while walking by couples, like “I never should have done that”, or, “But I trade debt securities for a living”. I love the passion of New York City, with all the yelling and the swearing and the impassioned, vehement debates (“He was talking about Bristol, not the 14-year old!”). I love how you can have enlightened conversations about everything, from the Iran election to the latest A-Rod debacle.
I’ve been in New York for six months now, after moving from LA. The always-sunny, carefree culture of Los Angeles still pulls at me sometimes, even though conversations there revolve solely around the new celebrity in rehab. Then again, in LA, I don’t have to deal with mysterious smells and flocks of disease-carrying birds. But now that I’ve become fully immersed again in the angsty, Type-A, New York City life, I feel more at ease that my brain isn’t wasting away in a Hollywood-induced haze. So, LA vs. New York? It’s a matter of body versus mind, I guess.
As of right now, I think mind is winning.