Living in New York City was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The hustle, energy, color, incessant movement, and cacophony of sounds envelope you, creating an alternate universe unlike any other.
New York City. The Big Apple.
I’ve been thinking about planning a visit to New York soon, and that brought to mind my five favorite things about New York:
- The Food
There is no better food anywhere on earth, or, at least, no place with such variety and depth when it comes to cuisine. I had my favorite Indian place, my favorite Thai place, a German restaurant complete with Weiner Schnitzel, a Hungarian spot, my Irish pub, and my date place all within walking distance of my apartment. There’s something amazing about that, especially since I haven’t eaten really good Thai food in years…no matter how far I drive.
- The Park
Running in Central Park was awesome; it’s where my athletic “career” began. I remember running in the summer past the fields strewn with blankets, couples, families, and picnickers all using Central Park as their “backyard.” I remember running in an early snowfall, when it was so quiet, with maybe one other person out on the loop with me. Repeats on the hill in Harlem still make my legs burn. And while people love ice skating at Rockefeller Center, I always preferred Central Park.
- Public transportation
I lived in Chicago prior to living in New York, so I was terribly spoiled when it came to public transportation. When I moved to Charlotte and then to Baltimore, I was stunned at the level of difficulty in getting places without a car. I used to take the 1 train down to the city when I lived in Riverdale, and I took the 6 train to work at Memorial-Sloan Kettering when I lived in Manhattan. For airport runs, I rode the M125 bus to LaGuardia (why New York has such a small, dingy airport is beyond me). Getting to JFK was always a long journey, taking close to 2 hours on three trains; but, it was two dollars.
- Neighborhood Personality
Manhattan is so diverse that each pocket has a completely different feel. From the easy-cool of the Village, to the preppy Upper West Side families, to the lights of Times Square, and to the street vendors selling corn on a stick in Spanish Harlem, the vibe of the neighborhoods varied as much as the people.
I took a glass blowing class in Brooklyn. I worked at one of the premiere cancer centers in the world. I ran half-marathons in all five boroughs. My relationship with God grew in a small Upper East Side Catholic church. I took Spanish lessons downtown. I went to the opera and saw the symphony. I attended Broadway musicals. I strolled through the Met, the MOMA, and the Guggenheim.
When I moved from New York, I was ready. Ready for roots, ready for more space, and ready to move out from under the oppression. While the energy is absolutely amazing and second to none, it got to be oppressive sometimes, with all of the lines, the expenses, and the people. I never walked out of my apartment to an empty street. There was always at least one person on the block. Always.
But the City that never sleeps is still there, just as it always has been, holding new secrets, bold independence, and deep culture. And possibly, awaiting my return.