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So here I am in my new apartment…

July 17, 2012

One year ago today, my life changed for good. I took a deep breath as I anxiously descended into JFK knowing that the vacation was over but the baby steps to New York City were just beginning. I had nothing with me except the carry on that I had one my back for the past two weeks filled with bug spray, malaria pills, and sunscreen as I was galavanting through Southeast Asia. I hopscotched around the world to end up in New York and I was finally here.

After a 26 hour flight, 3 layovers and 6 hours of sleep, my parents were at our front door with all the crap I lugged here from Ohio. All those things I thought I needed but in reality meant nothing to me. Little did they know it was them I wanted to stay. Yes, I had Josh. My gosh, I was living with him (which was a huge step all on its own) but I couldn’t say I had many other friends here. Actually I had the total of two. Coming from Ohio State where I had a good 50,000 who would respond I-O given the O-H to a city of 6 million people who literally don’t know where the Great Lakes are was the scariest thing I have ever done and may ever do. We shall see.

In the first year here, I have learned an immense amount about people, cultures, relationships, and most of all myself. When it comes to this particular city, you should know that it has its own culture. It is not “American”. It is New York. It is not calm. It is aggressive. People here are not what a Midwesterner would call nice. But people here are friendly. (You see these paradoxes in the subway when a stranger helps someone carry their stroller up the stairs.) Just because someone doesn’t smile at you as you walk by, doesn’t mean they don’t notice you. Just because a cab cuts you off in bumper to bumper traffic doesn’t mean they think you are doing something wrong. It’s simply the way it is. People know where they are going and they get there. It’s in its own world.

You walk down the street and rarely hear English. Last week, as I began walking out of a crowded bookstore, there was a discussion between a Russian tourist and a Middle Eastern security guard. They individually could barely speak English but some how they managed to communicate. I am not apt to think that this happens in very many other cities. But suffice to say, English is simply not the language. The language is movement. Like ants making their way to and from their hill. To the outsider it looks chaotic. But each ant knows exactly where they are going and when they will be back. They make their way through the masses without so much as a blink of an eye. They manage in their own world. Yes, this sounds selfish but this city can be a lonely place so some may come out jaded and hard. Or they come out just the way they went in.

I pray that I am one of those people. At first, I was worried. Is New York going to change me? Make me hard? Arrogant? Different? And yes, in some ways I suppose it has. I’m spoiled with amazing food constantly so I bet my taste buds have changed quite dramatically. And I have an iPhone. But I think that would have happened in Ohio as well. I like to think that I am still nice (I like to use exclamation points at the end of sentences still!) but I do see myself losing patience more quickly than before. It’s difficult to say if that is growing up or the city. I bet the city on that one. (Don’t worry, I could use a little less patience as I have become known as a pushover.) You tell me – have I changed? Am I a snobby New Yorker?

But the biggest thing I have learned, and perhaps this is why New York is New York, is to not set expectations on anything…or anyone. Don’t expect a restaurant to be all it says to be. If the window says “Best cup of coffee in the world!”, eh, maybe don’t expect too much. Surprises hit when expectations are low. It’s an odd anomaly. And if you expect too much from someone, you may be disappointed. I know that sounds quite terrible (and I expect a lot from a lot of people) but I just have to learn that people are going to do what is best from them and that’s OK. (Believe me, I do it too!) But if people expect little from you, blow them away. You’ll make it in New York.

It has not been easy, as some of you may think. You may think I blend right in, or as Neena would say, “I couldn’t picture you anywhere else, Al.” And this is true, to a degree. But so often I dream of being other places. I dream of being curled up with Finn on my Whitney’s couch sweating with the wood burner blasting behind us watching Frey play with his trains. I dream of eating brie and apples drinking Cabernet Franc with my mom at Mon Ami. I dream of walking down to Lincoln Park with my brother or building a fire with dad. I dream of going to the horse barn every day to help create the perfect venue for Miken’s wedding.

However, now that I have lived here, taken in the smell of garbage and urine and salt water, I could not picture leaving. I somehow have created quite a comfortable home. But you’ll tell me the moment I get out of the midwest state of mind, right? Oh, probably not.

Happy 1 year Anniversary New York City.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2012 7:15 pm

    This helps me from missing you too much – I LOVE YOU -Gg

  2. Marlee permalink
    July 27, 2012 4:49 pm

    Al! I am keeping up with your life via blogging, which helps but does not suffice. 🙂 Call me sometime! I miss you!!!!

  3. Karen permalink
    July 19, 2013 12:29 pm

    Perfect age to experience that amazing city!


  1. I almost forgot… | the shellhammer

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