Sunday, August 14, 2011

One Year

If you have not already noticed, today is the first anniversary of Miss Manhattan!  On August 14, 2010, I set forth to describe my Manhattan (plus) adventures, and I’m proud to have come so far, and of course to continue the process.

In a year, I haven’t just found my favorite spots in the city, but I’ve felt what it is to continually be inspired by the city every day. When people say New York is the city that never sleeps, they don’t just mean movement—New York never stops, well, being New York. The lights at the corner market will always be on, illuminating stacked tubs of unnaturally colored daisies ; there will always be “little skate fuckers (High Fidelity reference, anyone?)” in Union Square with their boards; deliciously chiseled men will always be running shirtless through Central Park; I will always be ‘accidentally’ shoved by a feather-haired old woman with a grocery cart in the cheese section of Zabar’s; there will always be friends sleeping on my couch after a night of debauchery on the Lower East Side. Some things you just learn you can depend on.

To celebrate my first year of living in New York, which was actually July 30, EH and I went out for Italian food then miraculously found a $5 bottle of wine at a store near my house and drank it on my roof. Happily, it wasn’t disgusting, and we were pleasantly buzzed as we headed to Fat Baby on the Lower East Side for bumps and grinds on the dance floor to some good, bad, and awesomely bad Top 40 hits. I was glad EH was able to come out to celebrate, as she was one of the first people I was able to hang out with in New York as a “real person,” i.e., a scared-shitless post-grad wondering how this whole New York thing was going to work. A year later, I am no longer scared but strangely blissful, floating about on a Manhattan high brought on by the sound of honking taxis, stilettos on the sidewalk, and the sizzle of gyro meat on a food truck at 3am.

I realized, however, that I made a very important step in earning the title “New Yorker” just this past week. On my way home Thursday night, I fell asleep in the back of a cab. In the midst of my sleep, I somehow knew how much time had passed, and knew exactly what neighborhood we were driving through (Murray Hill) on the way home (not Murray Hill), even with my eyes closed. I opened my eyes to test myself, and I was right. My eyes flickered closed and I smiled as the cab rushed through the neighborhood. When, even in the darkness of your mind, you can still tell where the hell you are in Manhattan, I believe you’re that much closer to earning “New Yorker” status.

And then there are days like today that make you realize even more how to be a New Yorker. I was never one for Sundays, finding them to be the days when you have to catch up and do all the work you put off the entire weekend; not something to be looked forward to, by any means. But today I worshiped at my temple (read: bought some fabulous new clothes at Bloomingdale’s) and then sidled up to Neil’s Coffee Shop with EmLa. We sat at the lunch counter on beige spinny stools, staring at the refrigerator case filled with pies, rice pudding, grapefruit and beer while we ate grilled cheese and tomato on wheat bread and drank coffee. The Sundays like these, when you may not do much but what you actually do makes you so happy, that’s what a New York Sunday is like. Some things about being a New Yorker you can’t seek out, per se—you just kind of stumble upon them and realize you’ve just learned another lesson.

There are some things that are so New York and “New Yorker” without even trying—white mugs and lunch counters and how wet your feet get walking up Lexington Avenue in the rain but you don’t even care because there’s no place in the world you’d rather get your feet wet. You’ll take off your shoes as you walk in the door, leave your umbrella out in the hallway to dry and sit down and write, because some days all New York can give you is inspiration and all you can do is honor the muse. Here’s to another year, and another, and another…