8 Reasons Why I Miss NYC
Having moved away from NYC 8 years ago, I have since come to accept the absence of many things that New Yorkers take for granted. As the adage goes, “distance makes the heart grow fonder”, and for me this certainly holds true. While many of my childhood friends had already drifted away from the Big Apple years ago to states like New Jersey, North Carolina and even Washington State, I remained behind, enjoying my familiar surroundings and a steady supply of Big Apple foods like ‘everything bagels’ - if you have never tried an authentic NYC 'everything bagel' or better yet, the crème de la crème of bagel sandwiches which is a salt bagel with lox and cream cheese, then you certainly don’t know what you’re missing!
It is not only bagels that former New Yorkers miss, it is also pizza. And if you are not from New York you must be told that NYC pizza is not eaten with a fork and knife but by hand and typically folded in half. If you are ever in NYC, please don’t embarrass yourself by trying to eat a “slice” with a fork and knife, you will be laughed at and stand out as a foreigner. I never realized that I would miss pizza or that I took it for granted. Imagine my surprise upon moving to Connecticut and finding very few pizza places that even sell pizza by the slice, not to mention the fact that the pizza sauce in CT tastes sweet. Please don’t ask me to explain this, just understand that you can leave the city but you can’t take the pizza with you.
As a former New Yorker it is not only the bagels and pizza that I long for but it is also the energy. The frenetic, fast paced, hustle and bustle of New York City life is like none other. I remember visiting London, traveling on the underground from place to place and finding it so, well, dull. Sure the sights were quite metropolitan, even historical, with awe inspiring palaces, churches and museums, but with the attractions spaced so far apart and the people appearing stiff and reserved by NYC standards, I never actually felt that I was in a big city. This feeling holds true for most of the cities that I have traveled to both in the U.S. and abroad. I always miss the energy of NYC, an energy which to me, offers a “sense of place” like no other city.
Not only is there a strong sense of place, but there is the melting pot culture, the diverse mix of people from nearly every corner of the globe, which inspires and challenges the curiosity; a kind of outdoor United Nations that provides a world view like no other. I was fortunate to have grown up surrounded by this inherently stimulating and invigorating array of people. Diversity was a given; different cultures, religions, traditions and ways of life brought from every continent. I not only accepted it but relished it. Not to discount the tension and racism that existed at times, but my experience as a child was that of acceptance and embrace of differences, which felt normal to me and, to this day, has shaped me as the person I am.
Theater and Museums
The rich diversity not only provided me with a wide variety of cultures and people, but with museums and theater as well. The possibility of seeing a Broadway play was always just a train ride away. There is a seemingly endless selection of theater and museums. Living with this on a daily basis is a kind of 'embarrassment of riches', a cultural wealth that is both unique and priceless. I truly miss being surrounded by so very much to fill me with delight and inspiration. Life outside the City pales in this way. I now understand why there are New Yorkers who never actually leave the island of Manhattan, and they don’t own cars because they don’t need to. NYC is a self contained world; a vibrant, vital and living world unto itself.
On the Street With Bill Cunningham
Within the world that is NYC, there is also a sense of style that is unique to the city. Bill Cunningham is a fashion writer for the NY Times. He creates photographs and videos that highlight NYC fashion trends. His videos bring me back every time and makes me long for the city I left. Walking the streets of NYC and seeing fashion first hand is something I truly miss.
This could very well be one of the qualities of NY that I miss the most. On a given day in New York you can be very social and talk to the people that you meet or you can remain anonymous – it is up to you. You can wear what you choose without being concerned about being judged, or that you must try and fit in. There is a freedom in having the choice to be anonymous and wear what you want without narrow social pressures. Being yourself, whether that self is anonymous or flamboyant, is an aspect of NYC life which is celebrated rather than a means to marginalize or ostracize an individual. And truly one of the NYC experiences I miss most.
While I won’t be heading back to New York just yet, I do make periodic 'pilgrimages' if only to feel revitalized, rejuvenated and to be reminded again and again, what a truly special place it really it. In between visits, I can’t help but reminisce, relishing my days as a Native New Yorker, or should I say “New Yawka.”
Neighborhoods of New York City
East Village Pizza Tour
© 2013 Tracy Lynn Conway