Concrete Jungle Where Dreams are Made of


I can hardly believe it, but I’ve now lived in New York for six months. Now that I’m typing that out I’ll agree, it doesn’t sound very long, but it’s something of a milestone I guess, especially since with the headache of finding a place, huge deposits, and generally adapting to the unique ways of the city, the initial move to New York is really difficult.

John and I had wanted to move here since before we met each other almost five years ago. When the opportunity came about and the timing seemed right, we jumped at the chance to finally go for it . . . and by “jumped” I of course mean our version of jumping, which is really more like a very, very carefully executed and well-thought-out toe-tap. While there were obstacles, we’re not getting any younger, and decided that if we really wanted to do this, it should be sooner rather than later, while we still have minimal responsibilities. After a lot of planning and headache and lots and lots and lots of money, we were able to make it happen.

Like everyone, we’ve had bad luck and various obstacles in the past, but it seemed like everything in this case was going shockingly right – we’d found great jobs, a great apartment, someone to take over our old lease, sold the car, etc. etc. etc. “Wow!”, we thought, “Maybe things are finally going to start getting easier for us!”

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I guess this is a lesson in not counting your chickens before they hatch, because everyone knows that as soon as you start to think things will go the way you want them to, the Universe decides to make you its bitch. It’s all, “let’s play fetch! Ok??! Go get it! Go get it!! Go get the ball!!” And then you excitedly, slobberingly run as fast as you can only to realize that the ball was never actually thrown and everyone is laughing at you.

I know that this is vague, but let’s just say that the job situations for both John and I have not gone according to plan. We’re both currently working, so things could be far, far worse than they are, but it’s been very stressful and very difficult having to adjust to an income that is far, far less than what we were planning on, and so now this big apartment of ours seems like a big waste of money. At least we’ll have awesome nouveau-Depression era stories to tell our grandchildren. You know, if we somehow manage to not jump out of a high-rise in a 1929 throwback.

Despite the stress and the lack of money and the depression (both with a capital AND lowercase “d”), guilt and all that jazz, I. LOVE. IT. HERE! I LOVE living here and have tried to find creative ways to stretch every dollar to the absolute max. Despite our situation, we have not been shrinking violets – we’ve done everything we can to make the most out of our time here because, though I’d like to say that we’ll be here for the next five years I have no idea where we’ll be in the next five months, so we have to take advantage of living in the greatest city in the world while we can, however we can. See why I’ve been so excited to win so many contests?!

All in all, it’s been a great six months so far, so I thought I’d share a list of some of the things that have made up for all of the annoying “personal” issues. This list doesn’t include things like the fact that mailing label on my issues of the New Yorker actually say ‘New York, NY’ or the superiority I feel flying home to JFK (even though it is a beyond crapular airport or that I work in the Trump Tower or how cool I think I sound when I tell people I live in Manhattan . . . because that would be embarassing. Heh. 

  • Creativity – unlike DC, New York is a city that thrives on and fosters creative energy. It’s been such a breath of fresh air to live somewhere that isn’t all about work: where people consider what things look like and how much enjoyment they bring. Countless times John and I have been walking through the East or West Village and I’ll just say dreamily, “I love it here”. It’s hard not to buy a Choinkwich from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck or watch a classic film underneath the Brooklyn Bridge or simply walk down a teeny tiny street in the Village and not completely fall in love.


  • Parks – though it rained, rained, rained SO MUCH this summer, I still feel like we spent a ton of time outdoors. Central Park is heaven on Earth – I can’t think of many better things than sunshine, Sheep Meadow, a blanket, cheese, fruit, and a good book or copies of the New Yorker. Bliss. As for winter, I love Bryant Park, which features free ice skating and a Christmas Market.


  • “Pay as You Wish” – One big adjustment was getting used to PAYING for museums! Oh my god – WHO does that?! In DC, John and I spent many, many weekends walking on the mall and popping into various museums . . . for free. Here, most museums cost around $20. They’re wonderful and worth it, but fortunately most of the big ones have one day a month (or even week) when you can pay as you can or wish. “Oh, why thank you, I wish to pay ZERO!” Eh, I usually get all guilt-ridden and pay $5, but still, a great deal. We went to the Guggenheim this way and it was a great perk. Next up will be MoMA to see the Tim Burton exhibit.


  • Cars Schmars – in some ways, I feel like New York is a big college campus for adults – you can walk or take the bus everywhere. I love that I can walk outside of my building, hop on a bus right outside the door, and be in the East Village within minutes. I love that I can walk to work or Central Park in 15 minutes. Or take the train to the beach. Or carry my Christmas tree home. I use this Google feature to track the distance I’ve walked if it’s been a particularly active day and some days I’ve walked over eight miles, but I’d have never guessed! The small blocks make destinations seem attainable. For example, in Arlington, John and I could walk to Georgetown or the National Mall, but we very rarely did because it seemed SO FAR. Here, we’ve easily walked double that distance and it seems like nothing. I’m eating constantly, yet my ass has never been tighter. That’s what I choose to believe anyway. Speaking of which . . .


  • Food, Glorious Food – The choices are endless. I suppose because rents are so high, there are a billion hole-in-the-wall style restaurants. Now, in DC, hole-in-the-wall means a somewhat sketchy-looking place, but here it’s competitive, and so even if the restaurant is only 300 square feet, it’s going to be super cute, yummy, cheap, and unique like this one or this one or this one.


  • Hello, it’s New York ­– everything, everyone comes through New York – musician, artist, writer, actor, director, designer – whatever or whomever you’re into, you can be that they’ll be here at some point.


  • Jay-Z – thank you for putting out “Empire State of Mind” after I’d already moved here. If I had heard it while still living in the DC area, I’d have been more depressed than any money woes can make me. Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York! These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you.


Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York . . .

Now if we could only find a way to get out of our lease to move somewhere cheaper and smaller . . .

Have I convinced anyone with some money to move here?


4 thoughts on “Concrete Jungle Where Dreams are Made of

  1. WendyD says:

    You’ve convinced me that I need to spend more time with you the next time I come to NYC. Honestly, I’ve probably been there about 10 times since 2002 and I generally can’t wait to get the hell out of Dodge and get the grime off me. As big cities go, I much much prefer London and Chicago. I’d live in Chicago in a heartbeat.

    But I’m glad you’re having such a great experience and writing so much about it. Maybe one has to actually live there for 6 months to appreciate it.

  2. Kealan Casey says:

    Actually, I think New York is really love it or hate it. I know a lot of people who just don’t like it – it’s too dirty, the weather sucks, it’s too crazy, etc.

    I’ve always loved New York, even just from visiting on weekend trips, so I think I sort of knew I’d be inclined to like living here. The people I know that have never liked and now live here for one reason or another are pretty miserable and can’t wait to leave.

  3. Lisa says:

    I’m one of those “never liked” it people. I only go when I absolutley have to and spend a little time there as I have to. To me it seems like such a hassle to get there, and then get anywhere around the city.

  4. Rach says:

    As much as I Hate (with a capital H) to admit this…I KNEW you’d love NY…I know part of me wished you’d decide to come back here (what can I say, I’m selfish!) But I am so happy that you and John have found your “happy place” at least for now. I can’t wait to come visit again and fall a little bit more in love with the city (even if not for more than just bagel-tours and a great sale on rainboots) 😉

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