I go my way alone, grow my own
My own seeds shall be sown
In New York City...
I’ve been living in New York for just over a month now, and it’s hard to believe that this is my new home. For most of my life, New York has been a mystical sort of place. Like Los Angeles, it was a city that I’d heard of every day in way or another, but had never seen firsthand. This existential notion made me feel like New York City almost wasn’t a real place. All of that made the experience very surreal upon my first visit in late February 2002, especially on the heels of the 9/11 attacks.
It was my senior year of college and my club hockey team had made the trip up to the city for the national tournament. We didn’t have a lot of time to sightsee, but through a coach’s connection with the NYPD, we were able to take a private tour of Ground Zero normally reserved for families of the victims. Simultaneously visiting the city and the site of the terrorist attacks produced one of the strangest feelings in me. Not only was I finally in New York City, but I was bearing witness to the aftermath of the worst terrorist attack in this country’s history. I was walking on hallowed ground, and suddenly both New York City and 9/11 were very real to me. It hit me the hardest when I saw hundreds of pictures of those missing. People my age—real people—gone forever. In the end it was a sad afternoon, but also a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Onto a happier note… Not long ago I asked a friend who moved to New York earlier this year what he thought about living in the city. He responded by saying that at times, the city can make you feel the lowest of lows. But at others, like walking home at night, you look up to the sky, take in the cool night air and feel that you’re living in the best city in the world.
So far, my experience has been more of the latter. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, but upon moving to New York, my prevailing feeling is that the city is a living, breathing entity; a massive colossus of concrete. And its life force is the collective population of its 8.2-million people, always moving and dynamically interacting.
What sets New York apart from other places is its personality and charm; it has character, and everything feels real here. Real people, real places, real life. They’re all part of something I like to call "the three Ps": people, promises, and possibilities. And they’re all interrelated.
The people are largely what make New York New York. As the ultimate melting pot of culture, it’s a people watcher’s dream. On the subway alone you’ll see members of every race, age, country, class, gender, transgender, and so on. And the best part is that nobody cares. There’s no racism, no discrimination. Nobody cares about the different colors of our skin or our other petty differences that are given more attention elsewhere, because none of it matters. In New York, there are bigger concerns and ambitions that simultaneously bring people together and send them on their way, as is evident on the subway every day. The city’s driven by opportunity and individualism, but as New Yorkers, there’s also a palpable sense of unity—that we’re all in it together.
Then there are the possibilities. With so many different types of people and things to do, the possibilities seem endless here. You never know when you might run into Tim Robbins or what random thing you might get into on a Saturday night. The possibilities are completely open and invigorating. In a sense, living here feels a lot like being in college, especially not having to worry about getting a DUI as you stumble home from the bar. And judging by the sheer amount of drinking that people do here, it does indeed feel very much like being back in college :)
I’ve noticed that people who’ve never been to New York City have the perception that the city is this dark, cold, dangerous place (as is often portrayed on TV and in the movies). I, too, had that perception before I’d ever visited. Apparently the city was that way before Rudy Giuliani was mayor and proceeded to clean up the streets. Like any city, NYC has its bad parts, but for the most part, Manhattan is now one of the safest places in the U.S. And while it can be cold, it was also about 55° and sunny on December 28th (for what it’s worth in this hottest year ever).
The other common misconception is that New Yorkers are not friendly people. From who I’ve met so far, I can’t confirm this to be true. I will say that New Yorkers are not as openly and immediately hospitable as, say, your average Southerner, who will usually flash a friendly smile and a quick hello as you pass them by. But most locals are still helpful and respectful as people would be anywhere. And again, there’s that feeling that we’re all in it together. New Yorkers and transplanted New Yorkers all understand what it’s like to be lost in the city, and don’t have a problem telling you where Hudson Street is or where to get on the C train.
All that being said, New York obviously isn’t for everyone. Even I had the same initial feeling that most people have after visiting for the first time: “It’s a nice place to visit, but I could never live there.” And here I am.
It’s true that you sacrifice some peace, space, and money by living in New York, but for most people who are here, the rewards are greater, and the future is promises. And for me, the best part is knowing that at this time in my life, I’m where I’m supposed to be.
...and I thank the Lord for the people I have found
I thank the Lord for the people I have found.