Dear New York City,
I fucking love you.*
It’s our one year anniversary today and while I admit, I knew you’d make me work for it as much as I knew that I’d claw my way out of whatever hole you thew me in from sheer tenacity alone, I didn’t know if I’d still love you after the honeymoon wore off.
But let's face it, I've been smitten since I first saw your picture back when I was ten. I'm a lost fucking cause when it comes to you. Because while pre-teen girls were swooning over Pearl Jam and Bryan Adams and Boys II Men, I was shutting my door, taking off my back brace and dancing in my room to the musical Carousel imagining what my life with you would be like.
I'm not gonna lie. This year hasn't always been easy. You've been a real asshole and I've called "time out" with you to sit on my couch watching It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia and eat mozzarella sticks dipped in ranch dressing, cursing you upside down and sideways.
But you always draw me back in, you wily bitch, you. With your skyscrapers and energy and possibility. I still buy into it, that strange magic you have that keeps even the wariest, MTA- hating, urine-smell-used-to, push-people out-of-their-way, soul-sucked-out-their-nose-NYC’ers here.
Because let’s face it-
You’re pretty fucking amazing. You’re the place that black sheep retreat to, that dreamers flock to, that people who’ve never found the right fit in the world head to, because this is the place to chase your dreams, right? Chase your dreams right through that concrete jungle and the pack of tourists, and the NYC-born and transplants and humanity that walk the streets every damn day. You’re an ironic escape, a place of simultaneous hope and despair that both embodies and dispels the beauty of the world in one fell swoop.
You’re not always kind, and I was warned of it before I came here. I was told it’d only be a matter of time before I was mugged. Told I should carry my pepper spray in one hand and rape whistle in the other. And you tried, didn’t you? But you underestimated me. You didn't realize the sheer, scrappy strength that a Minnesota-born girl has and I won’t lie, while you shook me for a bit all you ended up proving is I AM NOT SOMEONE TO BE FUCKED WITH. Try that girl from Iowa over there. Corn and stuff. Yeah.
You've put people in my path who've tested my patience, my faith, my hope, my heart and my willpower. You've given me the guy who screams “MOVE!" in my face when he could just as easily have shuffled to the side. But you've also shown me the guy who picked up the MTA card that the guy in front of him just dropped only to race to catch him in order to return the card. It’s all about balance, isn’t it? And that’s a lesson you keep on giving.
You’ve brought to the surface every single psychological issue I never wanted to think I had. That anxiety that I boasted I didn't suffer from? You put me in a car in NYC and made me drive. Stuck me on a crowded subway train after watching a harrowing episode of “The Following” and watched the anxiety bubble to the surface faster than a pot of water. Let me look out into the audience of my first show in NYC and see no one I know there. Give me a holiday where my family is thousands of miles away and see how I react. You brought it all to the surface and made me face it. Thanks. I needed to face all that stuff. I’m not better but I found a great liquor store.
I do owe you a bit of thanks to, that's for sure. So please, enjoy it while it lasts because no doubt you're bound to shut down the 7 train this weekend requiring me to take a shuttle bus if I need public transportation (which I always do thanks to that anxiety you made me face) or have some woman on her phone shoulder-check me as she walks by cause she's too "busy" and "important" to share the sidewalk.
But let's face it-I owe you this.
Thanks for expanding my universe beyond my comfort level and then some. Thanks for making me so angry some days that I cry on the train home, and thanks for letting that be a completely acceptable activity here. Thanks for accepting who I am and what I am and why I am, even in the darkest, strangest, least-attractive moments of my life and showing me firsthand that there are others out there, right in front of me, battling exactly the same and totally different demons of their own. Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone. In anything. And all it takes sometimes, is walking outside and finding connection.
Thanks for teaching me how to talk to people face-to-face. With the guy who sits in front of his apartment building in a wheelchair and stops me and Fable as we run by to chat superficially about the day, or Vivian the 85 years old woman who spent an hour talking about how she traveled the world before she finally married, at 22, and what a thrill that was at a time when women didn't "do that" or the elderly gentleman who spent an hour bragging about his grandchildren after telling me how he escaped the Nazis in World War II. Thanks for reminding me that real connection is face-to-face, not phone-to-phone.
Thanks for being a place where I finally feel like I can breathe (irony abounds here, I know!), where I can reinvent myself after many years of stupid amounts of sadness and pain. Thanks for allowing me the tiny 400 sq. foot space to call my own (which until yesterday I believed to be 700 sq. feet---I’m good at math!) Thanks for making sure I cry a little while I write a rent check but also think, “FUCK YEAH! I did it-I made it another month in this place” and thanks for making sure I ended up exactly where I needed to be.
Thanks for providing me with an insta-community in my little neighborhood where I feel connected, supported, loved and respected. Where I have some great friends and no shortage of people to meet me for a drink or a walk to the dog park. I arrived here wary of people, (particularly women) and you've provided me with a slew of amazing friends and a bunch of ladies that have restored my faith in friendship.
Thanks for forcing me out on the streets, so to speak, to engage with the humanity that surrounds me, confronts me, terrifies me and thrills me. Thanks for shoving me out of my comfort zone on a daily basis and demanding I live in this present moment, RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND, lest I be killed by a speeding yellow cab. Thanks for reminding me that no matter how bad I think I have it, there’s always someone who has it worse and has it better. Thanks for the daily reminder that I am not the center of the universe. I’m gonna keep trying though. I think I’d be really good at it.
Thanks for giving me my "Carrie Bradshaw" desk in my sweet little dream apartment, overlooking the 7 train and Queens Blvd. It may not be Manhattan but I can afford both the rent and the scotch here, so that’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to chase my dreams here, typing away at night after night in pursuit of all the things people come here to chase.
I suppose I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least toss a halfhearted thanks for the series of dating adventures you’ve thrown my way. I may not have found my Mr. Big, but I'm in no rush to find him because I'm really enjoying this marathon date you and I are on, NYC. But I guess, thanks for the parade of men you've flaunted past me. I'm ecstatic to say some are still friends, people I wouldn't trade for all the scotch in the world (unless it was Blue Label) and some are thieves who prey on sweet girls who just want to help but end up being swindled out of $200 and some are Marios who scream at taxi drivers and...well, that's another story. But thanks. With each one I figure a little something out about myself and who I am and what I want. Mostly though, thanks for the nearly constant reminder that I’m ecstatic to be living this life I have right now, and a guy would only be an addition, not a completion.
Thanks for casting me in the first show I auditioned for, because I needed that confidence boost in a massive way. And thanks for giving me the most incredible cast and crew to work with, and learn from and become friends with, cause OH MY GOD, I needed that. They’re some seriously cool people. And you know what? Thanks for making the series of auditions I went on after that a series of dead-ends. Of hopeful callbacks and holy-shit-were-you-unprepared-Lindsay and wow-that-was-weird-as-hell-auditions because nothing keeps you more humble or asks you how bad you still want this, than that.
I’ve gotta say, through it all NYC -you’ve been there at the end of the day, to give me a 24 hour bodega to walk to in order that I might buy my emotional food fare of Alexa mozzarella sticks and Brianna organic ranch dressing. Those ladies got my back. And my hips. And my thighs. I digress.
There's really only one bone of contention I have to pick with you, NYC, and that's this. Lay off my family. Sure plenty of them love you, but there are some that don't. Some feel as though you've stolen me from them. So if we could lay off the murders and muggings and pollution and crowds, that'd be great. If we could show them how incredibly happy you make me (when you're not being a gigantic knob) that'd be great. Let's focus on the good times we've had, like the stroll on the Highline on a spring day, or the exquisite performance we saw at Theatre for New Audiences and the expanse of humanity we get to see on a daily basis, that'd be great. Let’s show them that you’re exactly what I need right now.
I guess, at the end of the day, NYC, what I'm trying to say is, let's give it another year, shall we? I'm not sure I've had your fill yet, and for God's sake I still need to photograph Manhattanhenge and partake in the Great Saunter, so let's give it another 365 and meet again this time next year.
For now, all I know is my worst day here is better than my best day anywhere else.
I love you, you fabulous city, you. You're a helluva town.
* But thank you for the not-so-subtle reminder of what a stupidly filthy place you can be by presenting me with the gentleman eliminating his latte into the corner of building as I composed this post on a walk with Fable.
Hey, I still love you, New York.