How to start off this next section of our lives?
I think I should begin with why I’m here in the first place.
He did this to me.
Arriving in New York City for the first time was so full. Full of anxiety, full of excitement, thrill, and an acute sense of adventure. It was also a lot of pressure. We were homeless, jobless, in a completely new place where we only knew three people (out of 8.4 million), and I felt all these pressures to be a different person upon arrival. I thought I’d get here and suddenly wear red lipstick everyday and know how to do my hair (pfffff joke’s on me). Yet here I am three months later and I’m still the same me. And Billy’s still the same, wonderful guy I married.
Walking around threw a lot of my expectations out the window really fast:
- Not everyone dresses really nice. In fact, I might say people dress worse than what I was used to in Salt Lake City or Southeast Texas. When you get to the nicer parts of town you’ll start seeing fancier outfits and a lot more business casual, but it’s still not the movie fashion I was expecting everyone to display all the time. Also, (shocker) not everyone is super skinny and modelesque.
- New York City is not flat. Especially the northern half where we live. The rest of the island is relatively flat, but the rest is rolling hills and steep sidewalks. It’s not really any shocking news. I just wasn’t expecting it.
- Not everyone is mean all the time. In fact, it warms the heart when you’re sitting on the subway and you see a gentlewoman giving up her seat for an elderly man or you see someone return a dropped wallet without any hesitation. Some of the best people in the world are on this island. Also, not a single person to date has yelled at me in any real anger. I think there is a big difference between someone being rude and hateful and someone who is impatient and in a hurry to get to their burrito. New Yorkers are usually just the latter.
- I think a lot of people have this expectation that everything happens really fast in New York. In fact, there’s a phrase coined for this very idea. The “New York Minute.” When I got here I thought that we’d be able to get an apartment within a couple of days and I’d be able to land a job in a week. Neither of those things are close to the truth. I sat on a couch for a lonely, boring, and hard month and a half applying to jobs constantly, eating hot Cheetos, playing Sims and whining to Billy about how everyone should be tripping over themselves to hire me, before I finally got a job (through a friend). My point being- nothing goes very fast here. Except your money. (And certainly not the trains.)
- There’s another name for New York that only applies to certain parts of town, but I was envisioning it to be true for the whole city – Concrete Jungle. As we walked around the city I was shocked by how much land was set aside to preserve the natural beauty of Manhattan. Central Park is not the only park around. You can walk in any direction and run into one. In fact, we live only a three minute walk to a beautiful park that’s so big I still haven’t explored the other half. And a lot of the streets have trees planted in little square cutouts of the sidewalk. Some of the most beautiful streets have gorgeous, old trees lining the whole of it.
Some stereotypes that are true:
- People use their cars horns like their fourth language. (It’s their fourth because everyone out here knows a minimum of two other languages. I think I’m the only one here that is too stupid not to speak another beautiful language. So not fair!) We don’t get much noise in our home from the surrounding apartments, but in the time it took to write this bullet point there were (no lies)
four fivesix cars that honked. And we hear it all so crisp and clear in our cute little apartment. Ohp! That’s seven.
- Nobody likes making eye contact. I’m not saying that no one ever does it. That would be weird. I’m just saying that it’s a lot less awkward to learn to find a blank slip of wall on the subway and pretend like it’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever seen. I cannot tell you how mortifying it is to lock eyes with the same person more than two times. Once is normal. Twice is an accident – try not to let it happen again. Any more than that? Your pits start sweating and your heart starts racing for no reason known to you. And the more times you let it happen the harder it is to keep your eyes away. It’s like like making eye contact with your dog while he’s pooping.
- The pizza. It’s real good. Like real good. Here are a few examples:
- There are a lot of homeless people. Some of them are so sweet, and some of them yell at you for not giving them all of your money. Some dance, some do tricks, some just sit with signs asking for your help. My favorites are the ones that perform on the subway to distract you from your monotonous trip home and give you somewhere to look. I usually give them a dollar for the double deal.
- One thing that I expected and got completely accurate is how dirty this place is. I’m kind of fascinated with how gross and grimy everything gets, and people just don’t care. I cringe when I see people sitting on obviously disgusting ground, or when kids place their chubby little hands on the sidewalk. Once I was walking around the area I live and I was stunned by this woman in a chair finishing her bag of chips and nonchalantly (well, there was a lot of sass on display) dropping the empty bag onto the ground. I had to resist the urge to reach down and pick it up (that probably wouldn’t have been taken well). There are piles of dog poo all over the sidewalks (especially in the more ghetto areas). Collections of trash gather into little mountains wherever the wind takes them. And don’t even get me started on the smell of the drains in this city. It’s worse than the frequent whiffs of urine (animal and human) that you stumble upon around town.
- Jobs are lives here. Some of the people I work with get in at 9:00 AM and don’t leave until 9:00 or 10:00 PM. And a lot of them choose their jobs over wanting a significant other or having children. On one hand I find this to be absurd. On the other hand I have witnessed the wonderful sense of fulfillment that comes from being needed and providing good work at a job you enjoy.
Overall New York is just a real melting pot of lovely. There is so much more variety here than I ever could have imagined, and with all that variety comes so many opportunities to experience something new. Not going to lie though, it definitely wasn’t love at first sight with this place. For the first little bit I’d walk around and question everyone’s existence (in my head) and ask why they were here. Why was anyone here? Why did 8 million people decide to cram onto this dirty little island and call it the best place in the world?
But slowly as time goes by I’m starting to see what makes this place New York City.