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Friday, July 10, 2015

The A La Carte New Yorker

A longtime friend of mine posted that he was about done with New York City.

I can't necessarily say I blame him.  As much as I love the city I grew up in, I've come to appreciate the things that everyone else in the country takes for granted, such as getting what you pay for in housing or the ability to live comfortably on one job.   Well, that last one has been kind of so-so for most since 2008, but the point is New York is a shark tank, and most of its residents are swimming without an air supply and with a cut on their arm.  They may stay afloat for a time.  They may even find rescue.  But very likely they will be eaten alive.

That was a hard thing to admit.  The shark tank that is New York taught me skills that still come in handy today.  I learned how to grind, how to work hard, how to persevere in New York.  I learned that the competition spends eight hours a night sleeping, and if you could somehow function on four, you were ahead of them.  And when I finally left, when I reluctantly accepted defeat, I swore I wasn't done.  Six years after my move west, I still have this fantasy of moving back into the pressure cooker, and doing it right.  I'd  buy one of those overpriced Battery Park City condos I used to doorman for, I'd be able to live well, and make a ton of money doing whatever it is I was going to do.  I'd have a driver's license and maybe even a car to use on the weekends.

Like I said, total fantasy.  It used to be that you could make it work on a decent wage in the city.  Then it used to be that you could grind it out on a really good salary in Brooklyn.  Now?  Not the case.  My brother used to say all the time, "You gotta be rich to be poor in New York," and these days that statement isn't far off.  I remember back in the day telling people what I made in my struggle, and having them look at me like I was nuts and say "That's a lot!". It never felt that way.

However, I still go back every year.  I have to.  The best parts of me I get from the friends I had and the experiences I had in Brooklyn.  I get it from the subway rides and the street meat and Coney Island trips.  I get it from Prospect Park and South Street Seaport (rest in peace) and the old World Trade Center.  I get it from basketball at Marine Park and football on East 21st Street.

That's all stuff I can see in a week.

Don't get me wrong, I still love New York, the same way I love a restaurant menu.  It's just that these days, I pick what I want and take it to-go.

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