NYC. I’m serious!
As a child in Brooklyn in the 80s, I HATED NYC. It was dirty and dangerous. Of course, to some extent it still is even in 2011, but Central Park is nowhere near as bad as it was then. The streets are overall safer and there will always be crazy people doing crazy things, but again, the overall quality of life in regards to crime is better.
When I decided to move back to NYC after growing up in Cleveland, attending college in DC and living in Northern Virginia, my father was much against it. He even called me to tell me he did not agree with my decision. Ever the child that did what I wanted to, I told him, well I’m moving regardless. NY was calling!
And so I returned. A bit green-eyed, but excited. It was just before my 26th birthday and the possibilities seemed endless. I started my job, excited, made new friends immediately and couldn’t believe just HOW much it felt odd that I was back in NY, walking and learning the streets, eating in restaurants, and taking in the ever-changing atmosphere that this city throws at you whether you’re ready or not.
Of course, four years later, I’m nowhere near that same twenty-something gal. I am very much 30 and kind of poor, which I said the reason I was moving to NY was so that I could be 20-something and poor and not 30 and poor. HA! How things change! I also said as a teenager, I’d never move back to NYC. Yep. Things change.
Anyway, just before moving here, I didn’t consider myself a NYer. How could I? My cousins–THEY are NYers. They grew up in the South Side of Williamsburg, Brooklyn their entire lives. They’ve seen it all, the crack wars and now the hipster invasion. Me, I grew up in Cleveland Heights, OH, completely unconcerned with what was going on in NYC, just happy to be away. And so, hearing all the talk about how NYers are mean concerned me. Don’t get me wrong, I can be a mean person, a very mean person, especially after dealing with crazy people on the subway or having my entire person pushed around, but NYers are NOT mean. In fact, they are some of the nicest people around. The trick is, you have to catch them at a moment when they’re not brooding (which can be a challenge) on a personal matter. NYers will in fact stop and give a tourist directions, even after complaining about how they’re taking up the sidewalk with their constant stopping or luggage. NYers are friendly and willing and that’s why I love NY because the first Valentine’s Day I spent in this amazingly friendly, hard and unforgiving city, I got to Times Square Station to find a sea of red. I kid you not. People had on red hats, red coats, red sweaters, red tights, red scarves… red EVERYTHING. It was in that moment that I realized NYers get a short stick wagged at them when in reality they just are full and capable of love as say anywhere else.
So that’s what I love this Valentine’s Day–the memory of my first Valentine’s Day and the fact that NY can and always will surprise me.
Happy Valentine’s Day!