InThe Small Things

What I Miss About New York City

I just can’t believe I’m already a week into October. This month has a lot going on for me. Not only does this mean the year is three-fourths over (yikes), but for me it also means:

1) It’s finally summer in San Francisco! We have a late wave of heat here every year, and this past week and weekend the temps were gloriously warm. I have been in heaven, basking in 80+ degree weather in a city where I’m usually wearing a faux-fur lined jacket everywhere. Pro tip: if you ever want to visit SF, now is the time of year to do it! September and October are blissful.

2) Every one of my East coast Facebook friends is freaking out over pumpkin spice flavored [insert food or drink here], and I am unmoved. I love pumpkin and I love sweets, but c’mon people, I’m just now getting to enjoy my summer! Give a girl like a month or two, okay?

3) My brother is getting married at a Rhode Island winery next weekend, the 18th (!!!). I love my family, I love weddings, and I love wine. Squeee!

4) On October 11th, I’ll be celebrating three fabulous years in San Francisco. I left my heart here 5 years ago and am so happy to call this city my home. It was no easy task moving here from New York (by way of the Berkshires), but I suppose it’s true that good things don’t come easy. How will I be celebrating? I haven’t decided yet, but probably a hike up to Bernal Heights, a Mission burrito, and all the alcohol (or maybe 2-3 more realistically, at which point burrito food coma will set in and I’ll go home and pass out).

5) I will be in New York City exactly two weeks from now and I. CANNOT. WAIT.

When I go to the east coast, I like to combine a couple of different trips in one. It’s easy to spend upwards of $500 roundtrip getting over there, so I figure it makes it worth my while. I fly into Boston and will be there for 24 hours, then head to the Providence area for my brother’s wedding, after which I have 4 full days in the Big Apple. I’ve so been looking forward to this trip for months, because the more time I spend away from the city, the more it becomes apparent: I miss New York.

Don’t get me wrong — the west coast is amazing. I haven’t spent three years here for nothin’! I adore San Francisco and all the quirkiness it has to offer. But it really wasn’t until I moved out here, and have spent a few years here, that I’ve realized what I had been taking for granted the five years I lived in New York City.

The subway

The Muni and BART systems in San Francisco leave much to be desired. Muni, primarily comprised of buses, runs basically whenever it feels like it — sometimes the wait in between buses is over 40 minutes, and other times they’re practically driving on top of each other. Also, can we talk about how all the BART lines follow the exact same path in San Francisco proper? Le why? It’s great that BART is a way for East Bay residents to quickly and easily get into the city…but if you want to get to the Sunset or Richmond on BART, you’re outta luck and facing a lengthy commute.

I’d truly never have imagined that I’d miss the filthy, noisy, packed train I rode each day, but I do. New York City has one of the best transit systems in the world — it’s clearly labeled, efficient, and a simple swipe of the MetroCard will allow you to take it to practically anywhere in the city or boroughs. No matter where you live now, one visit and you’ll know that public transportation doesn’t get much better than the NYC subway.

Life at night

San Francisco and many other cities I’ve visited die out around 2am, if not well before then. I kid you not, there is not a single thing open in my neighborhood past 11pm…pretty inconvenient when I get a late-night burrito craving. At the end of my long nights in New York, whether I was heading home at 11pm or 4:30am, it was always breathing. It wasn’t nightlife, really — it was just full of life still. Bodegas remained open, cars drove around, the subway was still operating, and people were alert and walking down the sidewalk. New York scales back a bit and you could get to see the softer, gentler side of it, and that late-night life gives off a unique vibe that always made it seem like anything was possible to me.

Brooklyn Bridge

Changing seasons

I have an amazing life in California, and I really don’t think people understand how good it is until they come out here and spend time here. But what you just can’t understand until you move here is how monotonous the weather can be.

I’m not complaining, really. I do love me some Caliornia sun, and while SF gets the reputation of being foggy all ze time I think we get more than our fair share of sunshine. But my wardrobe prepares me for two types of weather: chilly and even chillier. For this brief, sparkling moment in time when it’s actually warm in the Bay, NO ONE is prepared. We all just walk around saying things like, “Gah, it’s so hot,” and, “Can you believe how hot it is? Amirite?” We sweat profusely and lay out in the sun in Dolores Park and then wonder why we feel so dehydrated at the end of the day. Tragic.

Weather in New York falls on both far ends of the spectrum: insanely cold and unbearably hot. Still, I got to experience the in-betweens and the beginnings of the seasons. There is something completely magical about that first snowfall, and the same can be said about that first hot day that hits the city, officially welcoming the sweltering summer. Don’t even get me started on the day you break out your fall-inspired pea coat for autumn. Witnessing that first big change in the weather will never feel more exciting than in the Big Apple.

The grid system

If you’ve been there long enough, you’ll know which way to walk simply by seeing the direction that traffic is moving. I have never felt like more of a New Yorker than those times I could practically navigate the streets blindfolded. With the exception of that tricksy Greenwich Village area, New York streets are built primarily north-south/east-west, and this makes getting around and giving directions incredibly easy. After years of living in San Francisco, I still need Google Maps to help me out.

The pizza

It’s just not the same elsewhere.

Holidays in the city

Despite bitterly cold temperatures and endless tourists to navigate around, there is something enchanting about December in NYC. Christmastime anywhere has a bit of buzz about it, but I never feel the same OMG-it’s-Christmas feeling like I did in New York. No matter how hard you try, it’s unavoidable there. Getting to see the tree and Macy*s all decked out in lights, watching content shoppers with gifts for loved ones, and the generosity that people spread. If you’re lucky, you might even watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve — an amazing moment my first year in the city that I will never forget!

The energy

People flock to New York because anything is possible there, and the amount of ambition and creativity, especially among artists, is staggering. Everyone you’ll meet, from the barista, college student, and bartender to the real estate agent, server, or model, will all have higher aspirations and bigger dreams. This is not at all to say that you can’t be a successful artist elsewhere or that there aren’t other cities or towns with amazing energy, too. But there really is something special about New York, New York. For this reason, New York City isn’t just a melting pot of different backgrounds; instead, it’s a melting pot of some of the most amazing people you’ll ever encounter.

Have you ever moved away from a city you loved? What do you miss about it? What do you still sort of hate about it? Any NYers out there empathize with me here? Have you ever visited NYC? If so, what struck you about the city, and do you ever think you could live there? If not, would you ever want to go and why or why not?

Photo credit:
Death to the Stock Photo

You may also like