Sunday, August 2, 2009

New York Livin'

Before leaving Midwest suburbia to go to New York for college, I was sure that moving to NYC by myself would once-and-for-all prove my adulthood and independence. I'd be all by my lonesome in a big mean city with no relatives or friends nearby, and if I survived, then nothing else in in the world could stop me. I'd have triumphed over everything!

Now, several years later, I've come to the opposite conclusion. All I've succeeded in doing here is hang out in adolescent-limbo and go nowhere. Now, don't get me wrong, living in NYC (caveat: without a big salary) is tough. The most mundane tasks become a huge chore. Want to get a bottle of soda during your trip to the grocery store? Oh no, you can''ve already bought veggies, fruit, and a couple cans of soup, and not to mention that glass bottle of marinara sauce, and your arms can't carry a 2 liter on top of your 4 grocery bags for the six blocks back to the apartment. Need to do laundry? You'll have to postpone that trip to the laundromat since it's raining...piling all of your clothes into a granny cart and maneuvering it down the sidewalk between throngs of people will have to wait for another day.

[Of course, with $$, there's always alternatives to this. Pay to have your groceries delivered to your apartment (which I now do--I love you freshdirect), or pay for pick up and drop off laundry service. Buy 20 extra pairs of undies. Or better yet, pay to live in a nicer apartment with laundry machines in it, because cheap places don't (which I also now do). But now I'm getting myself too riled up about it...]

I used to think these daily challenges were helping me "grow up." Now I consider them stalling distractions that actually prevent me from growing up. I'm thinking so much about how I'm going to do something--just complete a seemingly simple everyday task--that I just can't think about doing anything else.

NYC usually symbolizes freedom in most people's minds (even with Ellis island aside)--a place where anything can happen and dreams can come true. Yet, I find it horribly constricting. Yes, there is something free about not owning a car and being burdened with payments/insurance/maintenance/etc., but there is also something extremely constricting about only being able to go where the MTA goes. Our friend out in Long Island is having a birthday this weekend, and N and I can't see him because we just can't get there, and we can't afford to rent a car right now.*

There's also that part of NYC. It's one big MTA-controlled bubble, and whatever neighborhood you end up living in is an even smaller bubble. That's why there's a bodega on every street corner and a Duane Reade never more than 10 blocks away. "Everything's within walking distance!" is what supporters say. I say that having those types of things within arm's reach and no options to choose between makes your world that much smaller.

*PS--N and I have both lost our second jobs, so saving for The Move has careened off course. More on that in a later post.

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