The Two Kinds of People Who Visit NYC and My Bitterness Toward Both of Them

Filed under living in new york is neat, living in new york sucks so hard, my uber-confrontational personality, why i'm better than everyone else

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.


  1. Ash says:

    Oh my god the Facebook thing happens to me all the time. People post their super-fun photos of NY on Facebook and I’m like, “Ok, why am I friends with you on FB when you can’t even be bothered to look me up when you’re here?”, then I realize I rarely actually meet up with the people who will look me up. Oops.

    I also hate the people who used to judge me for living in Queens. I want to be like, “Yeah, why don’t you come here and live in a shoebox and try to cook like I do?” Although I guess I was totally asking to be judged when I moved to Queens.

  2. Cassie says:

    This isn’t bitter at all. And I don’t find this making you sound like a jerk either. When you live somewhere and see the same things it becomes life and to stop and point things out becomes mundane. I mean, imagine if you lived in the Bahamas or something. People all like, “Sand! SUN! SURFING!” and you’d be all, “Me, right here. On the sand, in the sun, surfing.”

    Totally get it.

  3. Kelly Powell says:

    Well, people think I ride to work in a pirogue and have an alligator for a dog, so, you know.

    I get it, in a way. When I lived in New Orleans, it used to irritate me SO BADLY to see tourists puking up yard-long Hurricanes against the side of a building in the French Quarter at 8:00 in the morning while I was fighting traffic, trying to get to work.

    In another lifetime, I would like to live in New York with Harper and The Guy so we could slowly starve to death like actors’ families are supposed to do, and I imagine that you and I would have lunch at Shake Shack at least once a week.

  4. Welf says:

    What about a third group of people who are totally indifferent about NYC and would be fine if they went their entire life without ever making it there, but will probably be dragged there because of their husband who LOVES NYC? Because that’s me. The stuff you talk about sounds great, but not for me. I love having a house where I can have my 4 cats with no one complaining about it, cars for throwing all my theatre stuff and groceries into, and walking down the streets without bumping into people. I imagine with my fear of large crowds to where I am physically ill, I’m not sure I would enjoy a visit. To each their own. :)

    PS I know Lin always tries to get with people when he visits NYC but if he doesn’t ask you, it’s probably because he’s there for such a brief time.

  5. Kim says:

    “…and have brought special clothes that they think will help them fit in here.” Dead. Amazing. 100% accurate and always hilarious.

    I don’t get the thing about the pictures/meetups you weren’t invited to, though. Every single person I barely know who comes to the city immediately hits me up not only to meet up but to STAY WITH ME and then they get all bent out of shape that I don’t have a guest room or even a couch and start asking me if I’m “tired” and “how long can you live like this though?” (excuse me, my apartment is awesome) and this is why I keep my Facebook friend count under 200.

    Also I wish I could afford SoulCycle like a celebrity, all my boyfriends work in finance (but don’t buy me SoulCycle classes) and I HATE MUSICALS.

    These posts always rile me up. You’re not a jerk, you’re just right.

  6. Jessica R. says:

    1. Ohio is NOT in the south.

    2. I definitely fall into that first camp of people, sorry.

    3. When I go back to NYC, I refuse to get on the plane unless I know that you’ll be there at the other end to show me what it’s really like to live there and take me to eat good, expensive food. I swear I will even gush about your amazing apartment. ;)

  7. Landlord says:

    Isn’t this basically the same no matter where you live?

    We romanticize things that we see and hear about, but have never experienced for ourselves. After a while, this feeling of needing to experience it grows and you end up with the first group of people, who get overly excited when they finally get a chance to. The problem is, the actual experience can never match what was in that person’s head, so they end up being surprised that it’s not actually all moonlight and roses.

    Take for example the Paris Syndrome, where some people (most notably Japanese) become depressed (and worse) when they realize that Paris isn’t exactly like the stuff from movies.

    The thing is, this doesn’t only apply to New York and Paris, it’s just the simple concept of romanticizing ideas and not always being level-headed about them. Same thing applies to someone who would want to get away from the city and live on a farm. I’m sure this idea of fresh air and simply manual labor sounds like an awesome experience, but you’re probably more aware of the annoyances that would make it a little less-than-awesome.

    Anyway, I can’t remember what the point of this response was, so I’ll just end it by saying that I’m totally going to take my picture in front of the Christmas tree next year, and post it all over my Facebook page.

  8. Kim says:

    I will say I am going to flip the hell out when you FINALLY come to the Cloisters and pretend to be a medieval princess with me. So many photos, all headed to Facebook.

    But tourists don’t know that exists, so it’s not SO bad, right?

  9. You would be SO annoyed with me if I visited NYC. My mouth would be hanging open the whole **** time.
    Pretty depressing, because when I was a kid I was convinced I’d have Tom Cruise’s ‘Vanilla Sky’ life. Only I’d be a world famous architect. And without the broken face and the being dead and cryogenically frozen part.