The woman walking toward me leaned forward and lobbed a fresh bag of dog poo at me. Okay, maybe not AT me, but in my general direction. And maybe it wasn’t so much that, as she was just a terrible shot and missed the trash can located next to me. Either way, I thought to myself, “Day 1 in the books… dog poo thrown at me.”, and a couldn’t help but smile.
On this trip, I had made the decision to talk myself OUT of my undying love for New York City. After the pandemic, after the sale of the Chelsea apartment, and with the pending sale of the LES apartment, I realized that my easy access to this city might not be so easy anymore. I think deep down, I had already begun to accept that fact that I may never be able to LIVE in New York City. But I had been holding on to the dream of at least being a part-timer.
On my walkabouts, I began to pay closer attention to the things other people complain about.
Despite the air smelling of weed, B.O., and hot trash, it also conveniently smells of the Halal cart when I find myself hungry and blocks from home.
Despite the appearance of unwanted rodents in 4th floor walk-ups on the Lower East Side, it turns out you meet the nicest neighbors while trying to find someone to dispatch a mouse at 8:00 on a Thursday night.
Despite the sidewalk being covered with dog poop, trash, vomit, old food and random puddles of questionable liquid, I still love looking down to see a spray-painted message of hope and love, or a sticker announcing the opening of some new local art gallery or club.
Despite the prevalence of homelessness, I have found myself having profound conversations with individuals who have struggled during their life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. And I end up feeling like a lucky, lucky girl.
Despite the congested streets and bad drivers, I have found a love of riding in yellow cabs and striking up conversations with the drivers. A trip from point A to point B also becomes a mini tour of the city. I rarely ride in a cab without sticking my head out the window like a happy dog!
Despite being in a “concrete jungle” I am literally surrounded by trees and plants and flowers. “Secret” gardens exist in alleys, and small community gardens provide tranquil pockets of almost church-like reverence as New Yorkers walk from block to block. Anyone who lives in this city has access to walkable, bench-filled outdoor spaces.
Despite being an expensive city, I am constantly amazed by all the wonderful free things to do. A simple walkabout can take me across the Brooklyn Bridge, or to the Empire State Building, or to a free concert in Central Park or free Broadway shows in Bryan Park. I’ve seen free movies, had free samples of food and drink, and walked into some pretty famous museums. I’ve been invited to art exhibits and lectures, and I’ve even won the Hamilton lottery. For the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, I’ve enjoyed rooftop views of the city. And in exchange for dog/cat/apartment sitting, I’ve gotten to experience life as a New Yorker and met some pretty terrific people and animals!
And despite being alone in the city much of the time, I find that I’m never truly alone. As I walk past person after person, group after group, I find myself at least momentarily wrapped up in their energy. And sitting on a stoop or a park bench often ends with conversations with strangers.
Despite the fact that I am trying to will myself to fall out of love with New York City, it turns out it’s impossible.
And I’m kind of okay with that.