My feelings about New York City have been made pretty clear by now. But the longer I’m here, I can’t help but notice myself adapting in ways I didn’t expect. Some of these new tendencies of mine, I hate and constantly try to work on. Some other new tendencies make me laugh, and I’ll let be, even if they’re dumb. And some of them even make me proud.
But there’s no denying that living in New York makes you a little bit more like other New Yorkers every day.
So I’ve been thinking about me in New York lately: me trying to keep the southern manners I’m used to; me trying to find magic in the little things; me trying not to lose the spirit of awe New York can make you feel in the mess of the feelings of defeat you can’t deny it also brings.
Mostly, I want to embrace these new behaviors I’ve collected. When I’m no longer here and I just talk about New York with the firm disdain and mysterious longing of someone who actually lived here, I’ll be happy I earned these quirks here.
So here they are, the most New York things about me:
- I can avoid a spectacle like a pro-New Yorker. I am on a mission! I must get to the Path station, or my salad place, or just anywhere and I’m not about to get distracted by your signs telling me I’m going to hell or the teenagers causing a ruckus across the street. No, thank you, I’ll be in my own bubble! I’m happy I have this sometimes, but always worry I don’t look around to notice things enough. This is one of the things I need to survive, but that I wish I didn’t have.
- Well, six months in, I can crowd onto a packed train with the best of them. I hate every second of it, but I no longer kind of wait for the crazy people to get on first and then feel sad having to wait for the next train. I am now one of the crazy people!
- Oh gosh, what I do for my hair in New York. I have this new hair guy whom I love, but who of course made me cry in my first haircut with him. I got in a lot of trouble for not using heat protectant products in my hair and a stern lecture about the need for conditioning treatments. So now, every six weeks, without fail, I show up at a salon just to have my hair conditioned with fancy stuff. I’m not even going to tell you how much it costs, but it costs more than my last haircuts used to. So. (But guys, you should feel how soft my hair is!!)
- Don’t even think about speeding through a crosswalk when I’m trying to jog. If you endanger my life or Ella’s life or are just generally a jerk driver who thinks he’s above the law, you are my worst enemy. I LOVE to get all riled up about this, and will gesture wildly at the crosswalk, yell loudly about said crosswalk, and even sometimes flick you off if you really deserve it. It’s a spectacle, and it’s kind of embarrassing.
- I go to things alone now and I’m not even shy about it! Warren doesn’t feel like going to a ballet? That’s fine. I’ll go alone and have a fabulous evening with myself. And not one second do I feel weird about it.
- I’ll travel a ridiculous amount of time on public transit just to eat in some new neighborhood. Like, for real, what is this about? Why do I need to take the train into Manhattan to eat in the West Village for fun when there are so many cute restaurants a short walk away from my apartment? I don’t know, but I know I’m not the only one who does it.
- I’ve made friends with the Empire State Building, but I hardly ever look up at it as I commute around the city. I’m too busy for it throughout the day, zipping around people taking pictures, but when I come home, I get obsessed with the lights. I love when they change to different colors and I love finding out what the themes are for. It makes me feel like it’s worth it, all the mean people and the crowds, to have such a beautiful skyline and such a warm friend in the Empire State Building.
- So I kind of know which subway lines go where and which ones will get me which places, generally. But… I definitely still get lost. This feels very New York — to think I know where I’m going all the time and then be hella annoyed when I’m not where I expected.
- Crowds are just part of the deal now. Poor little Warren (who avoids the city when he can), is APALLED when he comes into midtown during rush hour. It is very sweet and, sigh, I used to be like that. But now I just kind of survive each rush hour placidly. I guess it’s easier this way.
- I signed up for a book club with total strangers! I would never do this before, but that’s what New York is, so very much. Doing cool activities with people you’ve never met before, to make a little pocket where you feel known and at home. It’s scary and I’d never do it in a place I felt safe. But then, wouldn’t I miss out?
At the end of the day, I’m just proud I survive here. And you can bet I’m going to brag a lot about my NYC days (with my shiny soft hair), when I’m happy as can be in my slow, little, football-obsessed Southern town with all the other laid-back moms in baby yoga.
*Feature image source: Leigh Donahue