2015 marks that milestone you hear of soon after you unpack and settle within your first New York City apartment. 2015 is my 10-year anniversary of living in the city and, according to lore, I will finally be a true New Yorker.
For years now, I have regarded NYC as my mistress. She's that relationship that I have consistently kept on the side, yet through all the difficult times there is something about her that keeps me hooked. She is the definition of the "yin and yang" and to love her is to know that she insists on balance. One day you're meeting the love of your life in a perfect city moment, and the next you're stepping in a pile of dog shit after leaving a one night stand's apartment. The latter example are the times, as in any complicated relationship, that you take a little break and allow yourself a moment away from her. And after that breath, you sit in a plane thinking of how good it felt to be away, but soon enough you see her... and she is stunning. You look down on her and she sparkles. She is so tiny, yet brimming with life, and you can feel her start to fuel you even at 15,000 feet above. Man it's good to be back with her because she feels so damn good.
You see what I mean? New York City is the perfect mistress.
But, as is the case with any mistress, she doesn't belong to me alone. Not even a little bit. My mistress has about 8.4 million others in her arms, and I have to be okay with that.
Recently, a few close friends who once shared this twisted relationship had begun to feel the strain of it all. One by one they broke their ties and due to various circumstances, they began a new love affair with the West Coast. Now, leaving New York City is by no means any cause for ridicule or torment, and everyone has the right in choosing whether she is really the right fit. The trouble comes when on their way out, they decide to tear down my lady and try to expose what they consider massive flaws within her.
And that's when I have to come to defend my girl...
The first complaint you will always hear about her is that she is much too expensive. I have a bank account and credit cards, and I can easily see like everyone else that one tends to be in the red while the other has amounts racked up that my savings account would give anything for. I landed in New York City a decade ago with $25,000 saved up and can honestly not tell you where such an amount went. What I do know is that these past 10 years have given me experiences and situations that I could not find anywhere else. When you live within these five boroughs, you are paying to live in the greatest city in the world. You are paying to see an actor create the definitive portrayal of a character in a production that blows your mind and drains your emotions. You are paying to eat an incredible Korean meal at two in the morning and then hear a first class violinist on the subway platform as you await your ride home. You are paying to see an A-list actress laying in a clear box at the museum and then turn the corner to find yourself surrounded by the brilliance of Picasso.
My mistress can be expensive, but when you stop and think of what she offers, isn't she worth it?
Another complaint that gets thrown at her is that she makes you only think about your career and that all of her lovers are only focused on that.
I don't see it that way.
I find the feeling she gives me is something more dynamic and electric. She reminds me that she can be a damn good time, but that I had better earn it. Anyone who's been with her for a few years can feel this current that pulses throughout her daily, a rush of endorphins that make you want to attain success in your field of choice. And it's not just about attaining success within your field, but it's attaining success within your field IN the city. You have chosen the rough path of being a microscopic fish in a very overcrowded pond, but the feeling of swimming to the top of that pond is like nothing else and that's why you first dived in.
You know how hard it was.
You struggled and had enormous doubt.
But when Frank Sinatra sang that if you "could make it there, you'll make it anywhere," he wasn't talking about Peoria. He too fell in love with this enchantress and waded through her channels.
Lastly, people seem to think that her lovers have become jaded and cynical, and in turn are rude to others. Have some chosen that path? Yes. Do I find that to be the majority of New Yorkers? Absolutely not.
The same way people in the south resent being labeled as "close-minded" or "simple," I resent the implication that me and my brethren are rude people.
New York City is a tiny little place with a shit ton of people within it working daily at a very busy pace. Now add to that mix the millions of tourists that pour in each year, and you have two very different speeds trying to maneuver around each other and make it work. People will become short with others, and there will be little confrontations here and there. I have on occasion reminded a tourist or two that it's called a "sidewalk" and not a "sidestop."
Yet, I have also (and many others I witness daily) stopped to help someone lost find their direction or teach someone exactly the way to tackle the subway so they don't end up in Forest Hills looking for Carnegie Hall.
In fact, the lady I love has made me a kinder person, as I remind myself daily that there are millions around me just trying to make it work as well, and won't it be easier if I try and help my brother and sister along the way?
So, to those who are about to have that talk with her, the uncomfortable discussion of a break up... go easy on her.
Take yourself on a walk for a little perspective before you denounce the lady who gave you those strong legs you stand on and that tough skin that will protect you anywhere else you go.
Look up and see how beautiful she is from below, and how she'll still surprise you with parts you've never seen before.
Look to your left and witness how beautiful her greenery is and how Central Park in the thick of fall is as close as you'll get to walking inside of a work of art.
Look to your right and allow yourself to be washed over by one of her stunning sunsets over the Hudson and how you almost blush at how pretty she is when the light hits her at the perfect angle.
Look below you and see the diverse millions traveling underneath your very feet, and how, as if almost by accident, she has created a utopian society of how all walks of life can live amongst one another.
One might call me smitten, but that word just feels temporary and cheap, as I'm pretty certain that this is a love for the ages. And when you find love, you'll always protect and defend it.