Six years ago today, I moved to New York, a place I never wanted to live — and that now I can’t imagine ever leaving.
Within an hour of arriving on that dark and dreary Saturday night, my friend Paul whisked me to Therapy (the Hell’s Kitchen bar, not the counseling session, thank you very much) for a raucous night of cocktails and meeting new friends.
Immediately, my biggest fear of moving to New York–not being able to break into this famously tough town–proved unfounded.
I moved for work, not because I’d ever desired to live here. Growing up, our lives were more oriented to Montréal and Boston, where I lived for years. New York was never part of the picture.
In the interview for the job that brought me here, my future boss even cited an excerpt from this very blog in which I wrote that I couldn’t imagine wanting to live in New York. (But I was depressed then, I told her. And times change!)
It turns out I fell in love, and six years on, New York is still magical.
The other night, as I crossed Sixth Avenue in a drizzle and gazed south, to the twinkling lights of lower Manhattan, I had one of those New York moments. Like that feeling you get when the skyline swings into view on the drive in from LaGuardia, or during walks across Central Park, when you can’t help but stop in your tracks on the Great Lawn or the Sheep Meadow to marvel at the expanse of green and the towers beyond.
To me, New York is not Times Square, the image it often represents to the world. New York pulses with energy, that is a known fact. But the city is also incredibly intimate, despite its size.
New York is the quiet nights at Turks and Frogs, talking politics and books with the bartender. New York is the day your barista tells you she’s moving away and will miss serving you every morning.
New York is the friends. The sad days when we say goodbye to old ones, and the hope that comes from the new ones we’re constantly meeting in what must be the most social city on the planet. New York is always having a place to go where people know your name, and just as many where no one knows it, when that’s all you need.
New York is the dog days of summer on the sidewalk at the Duplex that you don’t want to end, and that you wish you’d worn the sunscreen for.
New York is high brow and low brow. The simple pleasure of brunch at Jackson Hole and the indulgence of drinks in the clouds at the Mandarin. Lincoln Center. The Met. The Monster. Laying on the grass and reading a book at the Christopher Street Pier. Walking down Fifth Avenue with the sun in your face.
I don’t know how better to describe New York.
“The deepest aspects of life are about wordlessness,” Pico Iyer wrote. “Something you can’t articulate.”
With 2,190 New York days under my belt, I don’t think I’ve gone a single one saying I hate this place. And while it’s true I’m a compulsive traveler and love nothing more than to escape to the wilds of Maine or British Columbia, or lust after the romance of Paris, the truth is, there’s no place like this.
“Once you have lived in New York and made it your home,” Steinbeck said, “no place else is good enough.”