New York is truly an amazing place to visit and live. You have easier, more immediate access to a whole spread of really wild opportunities, ranging from awesome career opportunities all the way to riding the train with a corpse more than once. I spent a few years living there, and am happy I did, but there are some things I don't miss about New York since leaving.
I moved to the city a year after college graduation. My boyfriend at the time got a baller internship there, and even though our relationship certainly didn't last, I made my time there stretch for a while after. It granted me many amazing professional connections that happened solely because of proximity. No matter how many dopely-crafted pitches I sent one editor, it still would not have created the conversation we shared when running into each other at our shared bike shop one random afternoon (and the huge print story that came from our chat sitting on the shop's steps). I recognize and am thankful for that.
I moved close to a year ago and abstained from visiting until earlier a few weeks ago. It was lovely to catch up with friends and visit old haunts (the ones that were still open). However, time spent away from New York made some of the things I don't miss glare even more obvious and offensive. Some examples:
I don't have a fully functioning olfactory sense, but it's pretty hard to miss the pee smells actually everywhere. Are they animal pee smells? Some, sure. Are they also human pee smells? Almost definitely. In the summer, especially, the pee smells intensify and mingle in a truly upsetting symphony with garbage smells and Wall Street guy smells.
Trash, also everywhere
One of my first afternoons exploring the city once I moved, I walked with a sort of valiance only 23-year-olds have when fresh to New York City. I stepped onto the concrete in Chelsea from the train and immediately a piece of garbage blew towards and stuck to me. Then another. And another. I peeled individual pieces off my recently lotioned legs and frowned. What's worse is after a while I didn't even noticed the renegade litter while navigating the stuffed streets. But during this most recent visit, I definitely took note (and said a silent prayer of gratitude this doesn't happen as much in my current city).
Everywhere. And if you have the horrible misfortune of working somewhere in the Midtown area, you get to enjoy daily bouts of dodging rolling suitcases and really dumb geographical questions. It sucks, because although the tourism greatly helps fund the city, it's so easy to loathe those directly contributing to that.
Just...no. I miss this place zero.
Everything costing so damn much
A tired concept, but still very very true. From happy hour to rent, prices are nuts in New York. You can take steps to cut back regardless, but often they include measures like —
Living with a million people
Literally nowhere else in the U.S. will you find racks on racks on racks of folks well into their thirties sharing an apartment. You just won't.
Total lack of privacy or personal space
How I Met Your Mother made that too-true joke about not being a real New Yorker until you cry on the subway and don't care who sees it. This happens, but not in the romantic way you may imagine. It's more like sobbing through both mouth and nose while cradling a rapidly melting granola bar in morning rush hour. Also, you have to take lovers' feuds out to some random Williamsburg corner instead of your very full loft or crowded restaurant. And even during good times, well, those aren't exactly private either. Which means —
Hearing everyone and everything around you at all times
I do not miss my angry sex upstairs neighbors.
MTA during peak commuting hours
Being tightly surrounded by bodies and their matching dead gaze does a number to you. I still have nightmares about people who refuse to remove their backpacks despite the crowds.
On the other hand, when the whole universe isn't en route to or from their place of business, that leaves too much room to be filled by buskers and dancers and other people demanding a few dimes should you accidentally let your gaze wonder in their general direction.
I lived in New York just three years but ran into at least two men aggressively masturbating while staring at me on the train. Apparently, this is normal. I also rode the subway at least once with a legit dead person also on board. I don't know if he was a pervert prior to this incident, but it seems important to include under Things I Do Not Miss.
Unfortunately cat-calling is an issue in many unlikely environments. Just recently, I was at the grocery store at 8 a.m. when a male passerby whispered something obscene. But in New York, since you're on foot so often, it comes up that much more. Conversely, though —
Trying to reach tall shelves, looking for a cab when bogged down with baggage, hoping to get on the wait list at a busy restaurant. I value the whole authenticity thing of not filling time with empty pleasantries, but I sure do like when human beings act as such.
Having to carry your life on your person
Once when prepping a friend crashing with me in Brooklyn, she halted my laundry list of essential items to carry for the day and asked, "So...it's kind of like camping?" Kind of. Elsewhere, you have either a car trunk (an actual portable locker,aka magic) or probably don't live too far away to make runs back home should you need something or want to change clothes or whatever.
Napping in public
Again, the living so far away thing. If you have two hours between appointments or gigs, there's no point in traveling 45 minutes each way home to sit on your bed and panic for 10 minutes instead of sleeping. Often you're forced to silently slump over on a park bench or something equally questionable in order to catch a little midday shut-eye.
Waiting in line
An hour for brunch isn't absurd in New York. That wouldn't stand in other cities as common practice.
Getting caught in the rain
Although you really out to carry a little umbrella in your daily cargo pack, you will forget at some point. Lucky you have that little zippy bag you keep for your phone to stay safe. Sure, bodegas offer their own rendition (I'm hesitant to even call them umbrellas) at $10 a pop, but they break. Quickly. Again, in other places, there are cars. Or real umbrellas to share for cheap.
Bad umbrella etiquette
How I survived X amount of rainy New York days with neither eye lethally punctured will remain a mystery.
Constant exposure to ~the elements~
Being forced to walk everywhere is a decent way to stay in mobile shape but it sure does suck when it isn't exactly a rain-free weekend day in mid-January. Even when you return home, you probably only have a window unit as a laughable sliver of hope from escaping brutal summer temperatures. :: kicks back in central A/C at home ::
We may never understand how Brooklyn businesses exist off cash only, but we have to respect it. Any other city pretty much expects plastic as standard, which sure doesn't suck when so many generic ATMs have $3 and upwards service charges.
I won't act like there's part of me wistful for my three-flight slug back up to my old apartment. Or those mad dashes up Union Square's sets in rabid morning foot traffic. All that aside, stairs make life a living hell if you're not completely mobile. A friend of mine sliced an important foot vein in a freak accident and had to take a car or twice the time to hobble everywhere, which was nearly impossible to manage in New York. Sure was an enlightening insight into what daily life is probably like for elderly folks, small children, and other people with permanent mobility issues.
Dating sucks everywhere, but in New York, it has a special brand of suckdom. For starters, the place is packed with Peter Pan men convinced they are more special than you with an affinity for ghosting. On top of that, there's a false sense of dating pool size in the city. You feel like since this is ~the place of Jay-Z songs~, it never ends! You can date new people forever! That could be true if you significantly change your parameters in several categories including proximity and emotional maturity, but if you're not stoked to take the train from Greenpoint to Sunnyside twice a week, you'll get stuck with a much smaller and easily exhaustible pool. Meaning, it's exactly like any other city that is not New York, size-wise—it's just that plus gaping immaturity and puffy chests.
From the hunt to the securing to the physical transfer of belongings and making an appointment with Time Warner, moving within New York is a nightmare experience I don't wish on a mortal enemy.
This might not be universal to all New Yorkers, but it should sound familiar to anyone in New York media. Not that I don't love and continue to work hard outside of the city, there's just this totally sick badge of honor unique to the city. It's the badge of busy and it's a neck-breaking race to keep it pinned to your chest. It involves not only hard work, but working to a point of utter exhaustion — grinding teeth over emails while getting ready in the morning, drafting tweets on the packed train, eating all three meals of the day at your (possibly standing) desk. Of those three, the most depressing is the desk salad: probably copped from a spot like Chop't and eaten over the course of two hours, not just because of its silly girth but because you're so damn busy. It will grow soggy before you near completion but you'll eat it anyway because it's 9 p.m. and you should.
The rejection of comfort
Along with the badge of busy, there's a pride in survival — one totally earned, I won't argue. But...at least for me, after a while, I grew weary of getting satisfaction from wallowing through the pee smells and desk salads for a sliver of validation like making just enough for rent or keeping upright on the train in heels. I don't need to suffer a merciless winter with countless slippery ice banks to feel grateful for the squeaky, melting snow and sun breaking through. I'm happy to be surrounded by other satisfied, gracious individuals who have no problem openly treasuring central A/C and affordable living.
Everyone pretending Jay-Z wrote their own personal anthem
Images: Warner Brothers; Giphy(26)