I have reached the age where most of the people in my life have started wondering why they stay in New York City. It’s expensive, crowded, dirty, and frequently impossible. And though I spent the first chunk of my life here dirt poor and scrounging for money, the thought of leaving has never occurred to me with any seriousness.
Part of that, I think, is due to a gentleman I met the night I moved off of my Westchester college campus and into my New York City apartment. I met him where I met everyone then, at a West Village bar. We hit it off immediately, and I was welcomed into his inner circle of friends, all of who were wildly accomplished (and more than a few of whom I was already a fan). In the space of a week, I went from working three miserable jobs and eating Ramen for dinner to eating at Babbo and Bar Pitti and guzzling Kettle One with people I’d long admired—a glimpse at what real New York City glamour was. Is.
That relationship faded fast, but we remained friends off and on, a friendship that saved my ass on more than one occasion. I haven’t spoken to him in years at this point, and the urge has diminished, but I can never be disgusted with New York City because I know that surprises lurk around every corner. Sometimes you’re reeling from a breakup and trying to get back the $80 you loaned your ex, and then an hour later you’re in a duplex apartment with a garden and a slew of famous illustrations done by the man you just met. And then you’re going to Carnegie Hall and the ballet and backstage at Broadway shows (and even, one night, the actual 21) and you have a part-time job that keeps you afloat and the knowledge that someone who has spent his life among movers and shakers thinks you’re interesting.
Everyone has his or her own version of New York City, and that vision can warp and silver over time. But mine has remained constant: New York City is a place where anything is possible, where good manners and charm can move mountains, and where your whole life can change because you mention Barbara Stanwyck over whisky sours.