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The Wild Wild East: New York City!

Updated on November 24, 2014

West End and 72nd St.


The Wild Wild East

Nothing is easy in Manhattan, nothing is simple and nothing is kind. So, why do I love it so much? Maybe part of the appeal is that Manhattan is so unlike any other place I've ever lived and the difficultly in making it here only serves to make it more appealing. After-all it must have some good qualities or else why would everyone be trying so hard to move here? The following is a brief synopsis of my experience living in New York City and more specifically Manhattan.

I moved to Manhattan at the age of 42, with little money and great enthusiasm. Enthusiasm was my only currency. No one told me I had no business living in such an expensive town but I soon found out that what I had done was not for the faint of heart or the easily dismayed. Living in Manhattan when you are not rich or connected is a great feat. It wasn't easy but I wouldn't have changed it for the world.

Real estate in New York City is anything but civil. Practices in other parts of the country are either unheard of or resisted here. Fair Housing Laws...what's that? Multiple Listing Service is but a rumor. Try to show an apartment and you may or may not be given access based on the whim, discretion or cantankerous mood of the Super. Have a lot of twenties ready to slip the Super if needs be. Tenants may be required to come up with as much as one or two months rent (no small amount when a 1 bedroom goes for $2,500) for security/cleaning deposit only to have to clean the apartment before they move in. Practicing real estate can be an exercise in masochism. Brokers are given the respect of a small town used car dealer. And paying your dues includes taking people out in blizzard conditions, walking up 50 flights of stairs for a 5 story walk-up only to have them sign a lease or purchase with an agent that just showed them one apartment in a high rise elevator building that they said that they would never live in on the east side during an open house. But people sign up as agents in droves. We get up at 3:30 in the morning to hike down to Williams Street and wait outside in brutal weather for up to 5 hours to take the real estate exam. Why do we do it? We do it because we love the business; we love the people, we love the architecture and we love New York City with all of it's challenges.

Why do people rent, buy, live and work here? Why do we all trudge through knife slicing winter gales, climb up 5th floor walk ups every day, several times a day, push our way through sardine packed subways to shop in sardine packed department stores, pay exorbitant prices for food, housing and the basic necessities of life? Because to live in New York City, to live in Manhattan, is a dream. This city is unlike any city in the world. The people here are unlike any other in the world. It's tough, they are tough, it's beautiful, they are beautiful and most of all it's undefeatable as are the citizens.


Other cities are big, other cities are expensive, but there is an uncivilized quality amidst the civilized in New York City rising up from it's underbelly. It's a freedom or a blatant disregard for convention, sometimes the line is blurred, that lends itself to the static electricity felt by every single person who has ever walked the streets of Times Square after the rain or of Central Park in the wee hours on a snowy day. Anything goes, seldom is there a law or even if there is a law it's often not enforced, nor is societal judgment there to stop you. It's live and let live or die and let die and once you've tasted it you'll never be able to live any other way.

One of the things I love about Manhattan is that you never know who you will run into whether famous, infamous or ordinary. Movies stars live next door to us of the more terrestrial ilk and walking down the street you may, and I have, run into the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Kathleen Turner and Woody Allen, to name a few. That's just the way it is here, you never know who you will see or what will happen, it's part of the magic of New York City.

On one particular day I was coming out of the women's room in a downtown book store. I happened to be dressed up because I was going out that evening and the woman washing her hands in the sink next to me asked me "are you somebody"? I just laughed and said no. I laughed because I was flattered that she would think I was "somebody" and also because I have often thought the same thing but dared not ask. In Manhattan you might be seated next to a billionaire having coffee at the local diner or cafe, a famous author or a Broadway icon on the subway...that's just the way it is here.

One of my former employers was a multimillionaire, he took the subway, dressed in wrinkled clothes and most of the time looked like he was past due for a hair-cut by about a month. At the same time my next door neighbor dressed impeccably and got regular pedicures and was as poor as a church mouse. The funny thing is that even when you are a nobody you feel like you're a somebody living here. It must be the excitement or the electricity that the city exudes, it gets under your skin and into your heart and gives you that zest for life that makes you want to dance in the street to the music playing in your head or coming through the 3rd floor window from the opera singer rehearsing her part.

The thing is, in Manhattan, even if you're a nobody, you're a somebody here.

They say you can't see the stars in New York City and the reason is that they were brought down and live here now, you can see them twinkling in all the buildings, teasing you with their light, beckoning you to come out and play with them. New York, my home, my love.

Photo off my balcony in Manhattan on a Snowy Day


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