Two years ago, I checked over my (two large) suitcases and my childhood bedroom one last time and hopped on a plane for New York City. I’d been here all of once, 10 months earlier, in the middle of a 19-inch snowstorm and had barely left midtown. I knew no one other than distant acquaintances, and didn’t have so much as a job prospect. I’d just gone through a very weird and bad breakup-ironically with a man who lived on Long Island-and was in need of a change and a challenge. As life always goes, I got everything I wanted and then some, along with some things I didn’t along the way.
- What neighborhood you live in determines your friends, and often your social schedule.
Especially if you don’t live in Manhattan, no matter how close to the island you are.
- You will not get a job because you’re looking for it, you’ll get a job because of someone you know.
You may not even get the job because of anything to do with your skill set or resume, either.
- You can be surrounded by millions of other people and still feel very much alone.
This isn’t always a bad thing, though, and you’ll find you have friends there for you when you didn’t even realize it.
- You will forgo closet space for longer than you ever thought possible.
And in some cases, end up living in a room not much bigger than one
- You’ll learn it’s OK to spend time at home to yourself doing nothing while telling your friends you’re too busy to go out.
The couch & TiVo will become your best friend at some point every few months.
- On that note, you’ll suffer from severe FOMO when you see all the things everyone else is doing.
But you’ll realize that you can’t make it to every. single. event. you get invited to. There are so many (really cool) things happening in New York at any given moment, but you’re a human being who needs rest and downtime just like everyone else.
- You’ll go through phases of making and shedding friends.
Usually, these are people who are in their first few months of living in NYC.
- You’ll find yourself preaching about the ways of NYC to friends who’ve not yet hit their first year here.
Because everything really is different after a year. You know when someone tells you they’ve been out of school for a year, like it’s a long time, and you laugh (and feel old)? That’s what it’s like with people who’ve just moved to NYC. Also, don’t ever date these people.
- Brunch doesn’t count if you don’t have three different drinks in front of you.
Coffee, Water and something alcoholic.
- Spend time wandering the city alone, and you’ll learn some of its best secrets. You’ll never be able to share all of those with someone else, though-New York is unique for everyone.
- Some days, you will hate the city-but it will hate you back that much harder.
As a good friend of mine puts it, “New York is like the slightly abusive boyfriend that you like to show off.” And when you love New York, she loves you back even more.
- When you go home to visit, everyone will be so impressed by you and the fact that you live here.
You want to tell them the reality is you spend Friday nights on your couch because you’re too tired to go out, and events are considerably less glamourous than they look on television. But you don’t, because you kind of enjoy the aura living in NYC gives you.
- People who walk around looking at their cell phones deserve to be run into. And people who get on the subway before others have a chance to get off should be smacked.
- You will get out of the subway and go the wrong way more often than you’ll admit, no matter how long you have lived here.
- You’ll get excited about nice cab drivers, and wonder why people think it’s surprising when you say “Thank you” and “Have a nice night!”.
Once a Midwesterner, always a Midwesterner.
- You’ll join at least one online dating site and likely vehemently deny you ever have to your friends, but you’ll make a surprising amount of memories and friends because of it. You’ll also have some really bad dates, ranging from overly intense to incredibly weird.
Like ones where he’ll insist on “one more drink, one more drink” until the bar closes-then give you a quick, bad kiss in the middle of the subway station before turning and RUNNING away, never to be encountered again. There will be dates with people just visiting NYC-that will include NYU dorms-and dates with far too many actors. Dates with men who find you intimidating, and with those who think you are boring. If you are me, you’ll have the incredibly terrible bad luck of running into nearly all of these men on public transit or the street at some point. (Yeah, I have some stories...)
- You will finally decide you can afford to join a gym and spend hours selecting one based on amenities and proximity to your work/home life, only to never go and then move jobs/homes.
- You won’t be able to go back home every time you want to, even for holidays.
But you’ll find out that the memories you create with your new family out here are even better, like when you host nearly 20 people in your slightly-larger-than-average apartment for Thanksgiving because they can’t afford to go home then, either (hello, Baby’s Fifth Thanksgiving this year!).
- There will be days when you feel sad, stressed and more overwhelmed than you ever imagined anyone could be.
Luckily, these will be balance out by days where you’ll be in complete and utter awe of the beauty and compassion of this city that you call your home.
- In the end, there’s nowhere else you’d rather live. New York has taught me more about myself in two years than I had learned in my previous 20+.
The first time I flew back to the city after a trip home, I looked down at the skyline as we flew over at sunset and knew that this was my home now. It may not always be my home-who knows where I’ll be in a year, five years, or even ten-but for now, I’m going to enjoy every minute I have in this magical city.