Saturday, October 11, 2008

I Hate New York

I know I said I love New York over and over again on this blog, to the point that it is probably boring.

But what I failed to mention is that I, and many of my friends, have a love-hate relationship with the City too. As I mentioned before, this is a transient place - most people weren't born here and have come to the City on some kind of quest for the perfect life. Our expectations of New York are very high, higher than they would be of any other cities in the world because in most cases living here is a life-long ambition, a fanciful dream that finally became reality.

And reality is invariably not as glamorous as the dream. Living here doesn't make you happy if you weren't happy before you moved. In many ways, New York has a way of blowing out your previous "unhappiness" (regardless of how small it was before) to new proportions. If you felt lonely before, New York will make you feel lonelier. If you felt you were not achieving enough, New York will make you feel like you are achieving nothing. If you were looking for love ... well, let's not even go there!

It is the City where every single person you meet is an over-achiever. Where it's normal to have pre-dinner drinks with one friend, dinner with another, and post-dinner drinks with someone else. Where we cram everything we can into the very little time we have. Where relationships of any kind are either passionately intense (and therefore short-lived) or dreadfully casual. Where the palpable energy can stimulate you and suck you dry at the same time.

As a few of my friends are leaving the City after 3 or 4 years, disillusioned and exhausted, I am making a conscious effort to enjoy New York until I cannot stand it's frenetic pace anymore. I do feel lucky - I have the career I always wanted to have, friends who love me and are always there for me and I live in a place that provides me with endless excitement and intellectual stimulation.

But New York sometimes has a way to make me look at my half-full glass as decidedly half-empty. Nothing is easy here - you always have to fight for everything, all the time. I have seriously considered leaving the City a couple of times already - going back to more familiar, safer, quieter territory like London.

But a taxi ride from downtown Manhattan to the Upper West Side gets me every time - catching a glimpse of the neon sign on top the New Yorker Hotel, going through Hell's Kitchen's bustling streets, crossing the West Side Highway bridge with it's amazing view of the glittering skyscrapers ... It always makes me realise that I am not quite done with New York yet. It may have thrown me on the floor and kicked me in the guts a couple of times but the battle is not over.

New York 2 - Steph 1. The next move is mine.


Carl Lyons said...

We're cheering you on Steph x

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much Carl. I had the perfect day in the City at the weekend- walking all the way downtown in the sunshine, hitting a street fair, going to the new Bansky exhibit and having champagne on a rooftop bar ... so I'm in love with New York again :-) x

Anonymous said...

Cities are funny things. I don't believe you can be ambivalent about a city; you either love city or you don't. The city either loves you or it doesn't.

This can change from day to day and hour to hour.