Most of you know that I was Miss New York 2012, which kind of implies that I lived there. Duh. For two years, I called NYC my home. I lived in the tippy top of Manhattan in a neighborhood called Washington Heights, in my favorite studio apartment ever to exist. But not before sharing a room with a friend for nearly a year, first in Brooklyn, then in a one bedroom apartment 11 blocks south of my awesome studio, in the questionably safe part of Washington Heights, where gun shots were common and bud bugs were a plenty. The bedroom was barely big enough for our two beds, but apparently the perfect size for flesh eating insects that live in your pillow.
My studio was AWESOME. Here’s a map of where I lived, plus a few shots of my one room safe-haven simply because I miss it so much.
Those french doors into the kitchen area…THREE closets…that bathroom tile…ugh, take me back!!
Now that you have a picture of where I lived during my second year in New York, and a mental picture of where I lived during my first, it’s time to fill you in on what I lost during those two insane, confusing, magical, surreal, itchy, sweaty, cold, fabulous years.
16 Things I Lost in New York
Going to a costume party? Prepare to wear that all night on the train, when everyone else is dressed normally. Crash at a friend’s house? No subtle driving– only long walks and train rides of shame. Enjoying your music in your headphones? Soon you shall become a public head bopper. You just get used to it all after awhile.
2. My Personal Bubble
Sitting in between two people on the train was nothing to me by month four in the City. Your thighs touching strangers’ thighs– what’s weird about that? There’s nothing uncomfortable about pushing your way up crowded staircases or through hoards of tourists in Times Square. You’ve got to get to work somehow!
3. Driving skills
Getting behind the wheel again once moving back to Virginia was terrifying. Changing lanes on the interstate made me feel like I was 16 all over again.
Gone. All of it. Cabs, food, drinks, rent…yep, that leaves me with about -$1,000,000.
Need to get 3 miles south? That’ll take about 25 minutes on the express train. Which may or may not come for 10-15 minutes, plus who knows how many times it’ll stop randomly underground, so go ahead and tack on 30 minutes to any trip. This means it takes at least 45 minutes to get absolutely anywhere. Though maybe I shouldn’t consider it time lost since I was able to read books. I can’t say the same for car traffic.
Pasta every night for dinner? Mac and cheese out the wazoo? Indian food every other meal? Sure! When you’re walking everywhere, visiting 5th floor walk ups (or living in one like I did for a while), and waiting tables, you might as well call yourself Michael Phelps. According to my FitBit, I did 18,000 steps at work from 10am-2pm one day. I laughed in the face of calories.
I spit venom from my eyes at anyone who even thought about speaking to me on the train. I barely blinked an eye when I was offered drugs, or when I saw people sneak off to do them in the bathroom. (I’ve never even tried a cigarette, much less drugs, for the record.) I declined invitations to bars where naked people perform some sort of sexual art that isn’t considered stripping, and I was fed tea with a spoon in a private room during the famous “immersive theatre show” Sleep No More. Things got weird, and I will never be the same.
I hate to say it, but passing homeless and crazy people just became par for the course. I’d force myself to give it more thought or offer food once in a while, but I would’ve been broke if I paid attention to every person in need that I saw.
9. Flip Flops
You don’t want to wear flip flops in NYC, trust me.
10. My metro card
One of the two literal things on this list that I lost in New York ALL the time. It coincides with #4, because those things are basically cash– especially the $112 monthly passes. If you lose it toward the end of the month, it sucks, but whatever. If you lose it after one ride, that’s $109 down the drain.
I can no longer pretend I don’t understand how unfair the world is, or the differences in the experiences among genders, races, ethnicities. And on a superficial level, I can no longer enjoy pizza or bagels outside of New York with the same pleasure.
You quickly realize that not only does the world not revolve around you, it barely notices you. There are always people more talented, prettier, faster, smarter, and funnier than you. Getting noticed has almost everything to do with perseverance and luck, not with talent or appearance. It’s actually a nice thing to accept after a while, because then you don’t take rejection as personally.
The other literal thing on this list.
Part of why I left New York is because I felt myself becoming a bit jaded. A bit dark. A bit pessimistic. I felt bad for 80% of the people around me, and figured my odds would be to end up in that 80% whose dreams were crushed or lost sight of how to be happy. That scared me, so I left.
When there are no rules and you blend in, you can “get away” with whatever you want. Sometimes that lets you explore yourself and the world in a good way, but more often than not, a lack of structure and conspicuousness isn’t good for the easily corruptible human soul.
16. Myself, for a bit
Some of the things I lost were great, like my ignorance and egotism, but take away accountability, optimism, sympathy, and money, and you start looking like a hollowed out version of the positive, light-hearted person you were or could be. You make decisions that don’t align with the standards you have for yourself deep down, you begin reacting and perceiving the world in ways that are manipulated by your surroundings, and you easily forget your purpose.
Like I said in my break up letter to New York, I’ll always think of the City fondly, but I’m certainly glad to have most of the things on this list back in my life. And, just as a friendly reminder so that no New Yorkers get offended, I speak only from my experience. Others’ opinions may differ.