When you live in Ohio, people don’t assume they know anything about what it’s like to be you. Maybe they have some vague idea that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, maybe they’ve read that the Cincinnati Zoo is so good it can breed rocks, maybe they’ve heard of Jeni’s ice cream–or maybe, like the majority of my co-workers, they think Ohio is considered part of the South and is solely responsible for producing all of the existing mullets in the United States.
When you live in NYC, people like to think they know eeeeeverything about your life. They assume you love Broadway shows, eat every meal at either Serendipity or Shake Shack, have Magnolia cupcakes after every weekend brunch with your girlfriends, wear nothing but stilettos, and date men in finance with slicked-back hair who take cabs everywhere. A lot of people have a lot of experience with NYC, either because they visited once for their friend’s bachelorette party, watched Big as a kid, or listen to a lot of Alicia Keys. In my experience, these people fall into two categories:
1) They’re glamoured by the city but don’t think they could live here. They’re pumped to see the Empire State Building and to walk down 5th Avenue, have read up on the tricks to getting cheap show tickets, want to take high tea at the Ritz, and have brought special clothes that they think will help them fit in here. But they’re shocked at how much everything costs, won’t feel like they’ve accomplished anything if they don’t live in a detached house with a yard, and can’t imagine having to sit side-by-side with strangers on a train.
To these people, I want to say: my life is just like your life but better. Sure, it’s expensive here, but I make a zillion more dollars doing what I do here than I would in Ohio. Sure, I don’t have a detached house, but I feel so safe encased in a big apartment building with a doorman to keep out the crazies. Sure, I don’t have a car, but I can take a cab when I need to, and I wouldn’t trade anything for being able to read on my way to work and to never have to park again. Sometimes I go out for fancy dinners, but sometimes I just want some boxed mac & cheese. Sometimes I get dressed up and go to a “club” with my “crew”, but sometimes I just want to sit at home and watch “Shark Tank”. Sometimes I go to the Empire State Building, but I usually just go to Rockefeller Center, because that’s where my boyfriend works. Every day. And it’s totally normal.
2) They feel like they’re supposed to live here. They already did all of the touristy stuff long ago, so now their visits are comprised of sunbathing in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park instead of Central Park, eating at the restaurants of the lesser-known “Top Chef” contestants, and going to SoulCycle classes “like all of the celebrities”. They claim that they just look so naturally New-Yorky that whenever they visit, people stop them on the streets to ask for directions. They spend all day combing job sites to find a reason to move here and don’t know anything about the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville but are excited that apartments look affordable there.
To these people, I want to say: MY LIFE IS NOTHING LIKE YOUR LIFE, AND YOU COULD NEVER CUT IT HERE. Sure, apartments look affordable in some of the outlying neighborhoods, but that is because YOU WILL DIE THERE. Sure, I feel so safe encased in a big apartment building with a doorman to keep out the crazies, but I will never ever ever have a place big enough to suit more than a five-pound dog. Sure, I wouldn’t trade anything for not having to own a car, but it’s rough having to haul everything around on my back all of the time because I can’t just throw it in my car until I need it. I hope you don’t like cooking, because your apartment probably doesn’t have an oven. I hope you don’t like holidays, because there’s not a chance you have a place to store your Christmas tree. I hope you don’t like your friends, because they will all move away to buy detached houses with yards to raise their children in.
Yesterday, Kamran told me, “You know what makes me feel bleh? When Facebook friends of mine from other parts of the country post pics of themselves visiting NYC.” I asked, “Because you want them to try to meet up with you?” He said, “Well no, no, I don’t. But I want them to want to try to meet up with me. It’s especially weird when those friends post pics of themselves in front of landmarks. It’s like, yea, good for you. I pass that every day and don’t even bother to notice. And then I feel petty and bitter.”
And that’s exactly my experience living in NYC, too. People are coming here all of the time to visit, and only half of them are asking to see me, and I’m only actually seeing half of the ones who ask because I’m apparently SO BUSY with my BIG AND IMPORTANT LIFE. (And by that, I mean lazy and not at all interested in meeting you in some Times Square bar where we won’t even be able to hear each other talk.) But then I’ll see those people I didn’t bother to see or who didn’t want to see me post a picture of the Chrysler Building on Facebook, and I’ll be like, “Uh, YEAH, I pass that thing every single day. It’s not really a big deal. You should sort of be embarrassed about how you’re fangirling over that thing. Oh, you saw the Rockefeller Christmas tree? GREAT JOB. So did the half of Ohio who visited NYC for Christmas. Hope you enjoyed that visit to Serendipity and the frozen hot chocolate. I’ve been there, like, ten times and know the frozen hot chocolate is about the worst thing on the menu. WAY TO GO.”
Give me credit for living here, okay? I’m special and need to be recognized as such. Just ignore those other eight million people around me.