My pipe dream came true nine years ago when I arrived in New York with my husband, dog, and two cats in tow. Some days that iconic moment feels like decades ago, and other times, just yesterday. When I moved to the Upper East Side in 2007, I can’t recall if I thought about how long I’d stay. Would it be a two-year plan? Five-year? Lifetime? I’ve moved past the five-year milestone, but I’ll have to get back to you on the lifetime option. I can tell you one thing I do know: No matter what, I still love living in Manhattan.
I wasn’t convinced that I’d like living here, either. I mean, it’s one thing to visit the Big Apple and partake in the regular tourist activities. It’s another to live the ups and downs of daily life here for a long period of time. I’ve always loved Manhattan as a place to visit, but once I settled in, I realized that I loved it more as a place to live.
Of course, I miss certain aspects of life before New York ––like living in a house, having access to private outdoor space, driving from point A to point B when it’s the only logical solution or when I have bulky items to transport. And occasionally, I pine for a larger apartment with lower expenses. But I miss all of this on a bad day, (except the lower expenses!), and luckily, for me, bad days in NYC are few and far between.
I find it appropriate to think of the reasons why I love living in Manhattan even more now, so many years after our first meeting.
Manhattan changes faster than the speed of light, but the ability to get anything I want at any time doesn’t. This 24-hour city offers necessity and luxury, and I never have to live without either.
There’s a feeling when I walk down the streets –– it’s a sense that anything is possible –– even the impossible. I sometimes imagine the unattainable, if even for a second, and whatever it is at the moment seems closer than before. With endless possibilities, anything can happen in a New York.
Despite what outsiders may think of NYC, I can tell you that it’s not uncommon for a stranger to start a conversation, help another New Yorker, or smile at certain moments in our fast-paced, hectic lives. It happens every minute of every day somewhere on this island.
The beauty in the ugly.
There’s less than there used to be, but ugliness still exists in Manhattan, and like the prettiness, it’s cinematic. Countless areas of town are sprinkled with little bits, and I find beauty in these places. As crazy as it sounds, the graffiti, trash, and dirt contribute to the character and add to the cityscape of New York. If the city is too clean, it doesn’t feel like NYC.
Leaving my apartment on any given day brings inspiration. I can find it on a corner and in the subway; when I’m daydreaming or when I’m paying close attention. I can’t help but allow the creativity that exists in New York to influence me.
Though many aspects of Manhattan life have drastically changed, quintessential NYC activities such as walking through Central Park, staring at the Hudson River, taking in a Broadway show, grabbing a Sabrett hot dog at a corner cart, or eating the best deli sandwich on earth remain the same. And if these things become extinct, other New Yorkisms will be ready to step in their places.
Outdoor space is at a premium in this concrete jungle but almost every nook and cranny of Manhattan has a safe, clean public park. These oases within 33.7 square miles of Gotham are an escape from the mad rush and ear-rending sounds coming from the streets. Parks are a necessity to exist here and are lusher and more cared for than I ever remember.
The diversity of neighborhoods.
Often, I don’t get the feeling that I live in a big city, much less New York City. I love that each neighborhood has its own feel and character. From Hell’s Kitchen to the Lower East Side and uptown to Washington Heights, a neighborhood in Manhattan is like a small town, and each has its own distinct personality and flavor. I can take a 20-minute train ride and feel like I’ve escaped to another time and place or gone on vacation.
The calm and the thrill.
Life in Manhattan can be calm at times. Contrary to belief, certain places on the island are quiet, removed, and relaxing. But the excitement never ceases and is a hop, skip and jump if you desire it. This town is, after all, “The City That Never Sleeps.”
The quick pace; thousands buzzing around like busy bees; constant humming of traffic; loud conversations happening simultaneously, and the I-can-conquer-this attitude of the people are what I love most about Manhattan.
I think I’ll stay a while longer.