I’ve lived in New York for 16 months, and I know that sounds weird to say. It’s not quite long enough to say a year and a half but it’s definitely more than one year. I sound like one of those new mothers who measures their child’s life in months, even when you can say “two years old” instead of “24 months.”
I’m unsure if my introversion, and possible social anxiety, has gotten worse since I moved here and I’ve been forced to cohabit small spaces with a lot of people every day, or if I just have a lower threshold for slight discomfort and inconvenience now that I’m 30. But I have recently made the decision that I do not like Manhattan.
It’s Not All Bad
Don’t get me wrong. I love living here. I have my moments walking around the Upper East Side and you can see allll the way down (or up) town in a straight line from 3rd Avenue. I feel a lot of nostalgia for, and an ongoing connection to, the East Village neighborhood between 1st Avenue and Avenue C, since I stayed around there the first two times I visited New York. I also love going to visit Washington Square Park on sunny afternoons, watching people come up with creative ways to make money (writing poems, reciting Shakespeare, blowing bubbles) and then immediately getting lost when I leave the park and end up over near the Meatpacking District.
Sometimes, the city is gorgeous and being here makes me feel connected to something bigger – maybe in the way religious people feel when they go to church, or annoying people feel when they go to CrossFit – and in those moments I think about how grateful I am to be able to experience this whenever I want.
But, Sometimes It Sucks
On other days, usually when I have to take the subway long distances and walk through tourist-crowded areas, I realize how many people are crammed into small places and just how annoying they all are. Walking around St Marks Place on a Friday or Saturday evening is a very, very bad idea. Not only do the people who hang out in that area not know how to walk on the fucking footpath (seriously, WALK ON THE RIGHT), they don’t move when they see me and other pedestrians coming, even though we are doing the right thing. There are also a lot more bikes around than there used to be, and I have almost been hit by rogue cyclists with their City Bike memberships who think they always have right of way (spoiler alert – they don’t) when they ignored me, other pedestrians, and the traffic lights that are put there for their own protection.
I am also really tired of catching the subway with people who don’t know how to behave down there. It doesn’t help that I work right near Rockefeller Center, and my stop is always full of tourists wandering around before or after they’ve been ripped off by going to the Top of the Rock, who don’t understand that the stairs to the platform are not a good place to check their phones, and that people behind them might have been running to that train that just pulled up and is about to leave.
Move Bitch, Get Out The Way
On Thursday, I decided to do something different instead of having yet another sad desk lunch, and walked to Central Park to eat. It is only eight blocks from my office, which is not a far walk at all, but I felt like I was running an obstacle course. Look out! Here comes a family staring up at the skyline, letting their child stop and start walking as they please, with little regard to the rest of us. Oops, almost bumped into the idiot who stopped to check Google maps instead of crossing the street, the way you’re meant to when everyone else around you does. Watch out, here comes someone trying to sell me a bike tour even though I don’t like bikes and I’m not a fucking tourist. By the time I got to the park I was exhausted, and immediately depressed that I’d have to do it all again on the way back.
I recently went to a class on the other side of Times Square from my office, and for some stupid reason, I thought it would be a good idea to walk there. DO NOT DO THIS. DON’T. I was met with crowds of people looking at out of work actors and musicians (and probably writers) dressed up as cartoon characters, who don’t seem to understand the skill it requires to move out of someone’s way. It got to the point that I was deliberately elbowing people who walked towards me on my side of the sidewalk, so they would have a story to tell back in middle America about those “rude New Yorkers.” I regret nothing.
Other than people walking on the wrong side of things, trying to hassle money from you, and making you miss the train by being slow and selfish, it also really sucks when you try to do something as out there as try to get a drink or dinner after work.
Again, my experience is limited to midtown Manhattan, as that is where I have worked since I moved here, so this may be different in other neighborhoods. Just daring to get a drink at a bar near my old office on 42nd Street and 2nd Avenue, or near 51st Street and 6th Avenue, where I currently work, is like agreeing to walk into hell.
- What’s that? You want somewhere to sit? There’s a tiny little table in that corner – no chairs – but you can rest your drink on it.
- You want food? That’s $20 and a 40 minute wait.
- You want a drink? Oh, that’ll be $9 for a basic beer and you’ll have to wait 20 minutes at the bar before you can order.
- You want to be able to speak to your friends without having to yell over 100 other people and our loud music? Good luck.
The gloss has worn off Manhattan. Give me beautiful, relaxing Brooklyn any day.