Welcome to New York
I’d like to start by being unequivocal and unambiguous: moving to New York is singularly the best thing I’ve ever done.
You can smell the naivety on me but I’ve just never felt so sated by just being somewhere. New York has a kind of miasmic, pervasive, systemic beauty that I just can’t do anything but bask in. Enumerating individual moments would be painfully banal –– and speaking their names risks robbing them of their magic –– but the overarching theme has been people’s consistent presence of attention. If someone steps in front of you on the subway, they acknowledge it with a quiet apology. Clerks, cashiers, and baristas appreciate idle chat. Orthogonal perspectives don’t immediately cause halting friction between two people. I’m continually struck by the fact that New York managing to cream together fucking tons and tons of people who are alive and acknowledge that you are too.
I’ve rapidly learned, as well, that I don’t know what’s going on all the time and struggle to achieve semi-trivial tasks. Without speaking the city’s visual language or understanding its customs, but still needing to tend to life’s quotidian tasks, I often feel like I’m walking backward through a throng of people and gracelessly bumping into the boundaries of social propriety. I figured having a chance to reflect and process what I’d learned would help me and––maybe, but unlikely––help someone who comes to visit.
The Things No One Told Me #
Practical Lessons #
- Do not bring your bag to The Met. You cannot wear it on your back and you’re asked not to check things that contain laptops or iPads.
- You’re allowed to sleep in Central Park. Take a nap.
- It never hurts to check the direction you’re walking in. The mild inconvenience of checking every time is worth saving yourself walking 15 minutes in the wrong direction 10% of the time.
- There are Metro Card stations at some bus stops. (If there isn’t a station or a sign, it isn’t a stop regardless of what Google Maps says.) You dip your Metro Card to pay for the bus; some of them give you receipts and some don’t. It’s not your business to figure out how fare-paying is enforced.
Life Lessons #
- Unlike the west coast, you can talk to strangers here without feeling like you’ve deeply intruded into the only private space they have in the world.
- Almost everyone is willing to help you, despite sometimes performing a kind of obligatory begrudgingness.
- Earnest conversations about money are great but vague adulations of yours and your partner’s incomes are gauche.
- When you go out for lunch with the CEO, he might pay.