What I'll Miss About NYC
I would never call myself a New Yorker. Basically because, well, I’m not one. But also because I wouldn't want to piss any of the actual New Yorkers off. The born and raised Manhattanites, some of which include my mother, that scorn protective lasers if your wording proposes that you’ve stepped out of your alien habitat. Despite evil side-eyes and an awkward silent judgement, I like to think of myself as one. Disregarding an established understanding that one should be living in New York at least ten years before conjuring up such a solid, far-out image of themselves. Although, I for one, have self-proclaimed New Yorker status with a softened Irish brogue and a dispossessed ownership of an overpriced New York City apartment lease.
Swiftly upon moving, I had adapted many social mannerisms of stereotypical New Yorkers. An eager investigation of belonging pursued without patience. Concrete rules like constantly looking like you’re rushing somewhere, even when you’re not. All while becoming severely pissed off at a confused tourist who abruptly stopped right in front of you while fighting the corners of a paper map. I’ll be honest, I hadn't anticipated a challenging transition. It’s funny, what I thought would be a simple unpacking of two overweight suitcases and careful placement of photographic memories fixated on minimal shelf space, soon became a daunting realization that it just wasn’t going to be that simple. A discouraging thought for an underage, impatient New York wannabe, a mere two months in. New York City is like a spectacular adult playground with everything itching your fingertips. It’s addicting. But the cost of groceries and a single Cosmopolitan will force you bingeing on $1 pizza. It is simple falling victim to the Manhattan lifestyle if you’re a wealthy Upper East Side socialite with inherited old money, rather than an eager creative student counting desperate pennies in her sobbing bank account.
When I arrive back to Ireland during summer months and Christmas holidays, I’m always teased about my adapted Americanisms. Suddenly I have a distinct accent I could never hear before, and I’m wondering where my sweater is, rather than my jumper. After four years, things are nothing but second nature, and those unsettling two months of New York breaking me in now feels like a lifetime ago. Was it not only yesterday that my journalism professor was scolding my paper with “spelling mistakes” of colour, rather than color, and having the date written the wrong way around. Now, I could never imagine spelling color any other way. Although I never fully adapted to writing the date the "correct" way. With only a few weeks left as this self-proclaimed New Yorker, I’ve been walking around each day with this short-lived feeling and sad realization that, shit, I’m really gonna miss this place. Despite the mountain high garbage dump shadowing my passing, or the giant rat that almost tripped me up on the way home, I started to look at everything differently. This city is home, but yet still breathes the illusion of a strange skyscraper fantasyland. And that’s what I love about it.
I’ll be honest though, I’m incredibly excited about my approaching new beginning and moving back to Ireland. Any fled pioneer will understand the contentment and amenity home soil will provide your soul. There is nothing like it. But leaving New York was never going to be easy, despite the occasional yet frequent anxiety attacks it had given me, and the long draining working days I had fallen slave to. Leaving New York after almost four years just feels natural. Nothing is forced, but everything has grown. An underdeveloped, underage mindset is so much more open, and a strong ambitious independence is abundantly wiser. New York has taught me so much about myself, both good and bad. With the greatest lesson being a disregarded previous belief that I was some kinda superwoman. But some time later I learned that mental health is important and burning yourself out is a dangerous demolition. Sometimes you need to know when to say goodbye, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Although these nerves are the good kinda nervous. The exciting kind. New York will always be apart of my growth, and that’s what I’m most grateful for.
Some simplified things that I’ll miss about New York will be…
No. 1 One thing I’ll really miss about New York is the solo exploration. A solo exploration of being able to walk everywhere. Everything is at your doorstep. Exploring Gramercy to find another green juice on a hidden street, or nettling yourself into an East Village coffee shop without coffee, but some creative health latte with no caffeine instead. And if you’re desperate for a midnight snack, it is simply guaranteed you will have an abundance of choice, despite it being 3am.
No. 2 Another thing I’ll really miss about New York is that nobody knows who you are. Something I really hate about being from a small town is that everyone knows you and your business. I love the mystery of cities. There’s so much more interesting questions, whether it is how the homeless man you see everyday came to having his house on his back, or the overheard conversation of a millionaire on the phone behind you.
No. 3 Contradicting myself slightly, but I also love how there’s specific places where people know who you are, whether it being a friendly hello arriving at your gym in the morning, or with the regular matcha I order from the familiar barista. New York can be a really lonely place, which is strange for people that don’t live here to understand, but having somewhere where you feel like you belong is truly liberating.
No. 4 Not exactly something I'll miss, but rather something I had actually learned was to never acknowledge celebrities. Although I’ll admit, bumping into Daniel Radcliffe in my gym recently gave me all sorts of palpitations. And when Tiesto was in my local café, well, I lost my chill. No regrets.
No. 5 Your reaction to certain things almost becomes jaded. Some guy walking down the street with no pants on will soon become indifferent to you and the sight of a rat will no longer faze you.
No. 6 Walking around in gym clothes after a proper sweat session is perfectly acceptable, and honestly, nobody cares. Nobody cares what you do, what you wear, or who you are. I wouldn’t walk around like that in my hometown. And since we’re on the subject, I’m really gonna miss the workout classes and the summer outdoor pilates in Bryant Park.
No. 7 I’ll miss always feeling safe. It’s funny, people always ask me questions about this. Honestly, New York is where I feel safest. It could be 4am, I’m wandering home after being in the bar with friends and I feel absolutely no fear. I wouldn’t do that in Dublin riding solo, or any other city for that matter.
No. 8 A real biggie, I’m really going to miss the restaurants and bars. For foodies like myself, New York is a goldmine. Literally anything you didn’t even know existed is here, catering for every palette. Wild milkshakes from Black Tap that are taller than you, tubs of cookie dough instead of ice-cream from DŌ , or jelly-laden cocktail bowls with rainbow lollies from The Sugar Factory. It has everything, whether it’s catering for the healthiest of people or those opting for something layered with diabetes. As someone that eats a very plant-based diet, it has everything. No second thought or sense of missing out. If I’m craving some vegan cookies, I’m off to the Farmer’s Market in Union Square, and if I’m salivating for some vegan pizza, well it is simply cured with a quick walk down the street.
There’s so many little things I’ll miss about everyday life in New York. But as I said, I’m taking those little things as satisfying, incredibly filling memories I’ll always have. I’m crazy excited for a new beginning, a fresh start. Looking back smiling, but moving onto the next chapter of my life.