Tag Archives: central park

Goodbye, New York

It’s been five days since I left New York, and as is the case with week-old nostalgia, I often find myself thinking about the city.  I’ve always loved the vibrancy of New York, the energy, and even the street meat smell.  Since I left, I have found myself missing those aspects of the city: the pavement-pounding commuters, the holier-than-thou coffeeshops, the 3 AM chicken and rice.  Most of all, though, I miss the people.  I miss the tour guide in Midtown who attracts customers by telling people his name is Kofi Annan (“Really? I’ve totally heard your name before.  You’re a famous tour guide!”).  I miss the crazy (and perhaps sight-challenged) men who would hoot at me in the mornings (“Hey baby, you’re looking fine in those Old Navy dress pants.”).  I miss the friends who came with me, during my last week in the city, to visit a heralded NYC institution–the Olive Garden in Times Square.

While I lived in New York, I had my complaints too.  For me, the city was expensive, crowded, and dirty.  Rats were everywhere, as if the Pied Piper had settled in Manhattan.  Over the last four months, I lived on the Upper East Side, where Juicy-Couture-wearing poodles would be juxtaposed with the pigeon-poop-lined sidewalks.  I’d dodge feces of all kinds (dog, rodent, fowl) as I walked to work.

But as nostalgia goes, all my complaints about New York are now forgotten.  The good memories are the ones that remain: dancing with kilted Scotsmen at Gatsby’s, table-searching in the basement of 30 Rock, discussing pedophiles on Wednesday nights, finding the best fajitas in town (still Zarela’s), Zog Sports football, Central Park, 24-hour diners, even Joshua Tree.

I think that anytime something ends, there is an afterwards period of great reflection and self-doubt.  If I were in an early-90s TV show, I’d be sitting next to a bay window now, a single tear streaming down one cheek, watching the rain fall outside.  Am I doing the right thing?  Am I just being crazy?  Who chooses LA over New York??  Where did my stoic, hardened, East-Coast-is-the-Beast-Coast mentality go?

Well… I don’t know the answer to that right now.  But with regards to the city of New York, I’ll quote the modern-day, muscled bard of California: I’ll be back… perhaps.

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What I Love About New York City

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.  subwayBut 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.

grandcentralHowever, 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.

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