don’t worry new york, i still love you

October 6, 2010 |  Category:   life nyc

There are 2 types of New Yorkers: those who are here for life and those who finally make the break and leave. It feels like there’s been a lot of chatter about moving amongst my real-life and online friends lately. Sometimes New York can feel like a transitional kind of town because people constantly come and go – it’s not unusual to say good bye to a few friends every year. Look, I won’t lie. Even as a hard core, native New Yorker you have periods where you question yourself and your sanity. Taxes slay us and health insurance premiums are criminal. Now we have this stupid MTA commuter tax for freelancers even though Mark and I don’t take the train very often. Then there’s all the other stuff. It’s endless. The truth is, neither Mark nor I have be here since we’re not tied to offices or jobs. We could move somewhere cheaper. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to find as much work, but maybe I wouldn’t have to. Maybe I wouldn’t be as stressed financially. It’s not so much the lifestyle or a need for a calmer space. No, I’ve realized long ago that I feed off of that friction and energy. I want and need it. I love it here, just the way it is. It’s just the expense of feeding this need that makes me reconsider, every so often, whether it’s worth it.

I’ll admit to having a hard time coming back from Seattle in August and readjusting to life back in the city. It wasn’t just the city, it was also the daily routine. Felt like I was in a daze for 2 weeks and couldn’t snap back into myself. For the first time since I moved back home, I felt like I could really live there. Like now. I didn’t think that I could love another city in that way. I found myself thinking that if it weren’t for my parents I’d seriously consider moving to Seattle. We have family there, we have friends, we’d know what to expect and it’s familiar. I know Mark would jump at the chance to go back home. I even told my mom all of this, in which she replied “it’s your life, you could do whatever you want”. I saw her noble bluff and just retorted back, “yeah, right. You’d be devastated if we moved to the other side of the country and moved the kids”.

But you know…time passes, the memories of vacation and summer fade, and you do eventually snap back into your life. You become reacquainted with all the reasons why you love New York and you remember that vacation is not reality, it’s escapism. And I know myself too well. I know that if I were to move right now, I’d fall to pieces at the first sight of a New York City photograph. I wouldn’t be able to go on The Sartorialist, watch any Woody Allen or Spike Lee movies. I wouldn’t be able to turn on the TV. A mere glance at a random NYC street shot would stab me in the heart. Every bagel and pizza would make me shake my head and sigh. I know this because I’ve been through it before.

When we were in Portland and Seattle this summer, Mia kept saying, “we’re the only kids here!”. She wasn’t exaggerating either. Most times we wouldn’t see any other kids on the streets. I never understood why visitors who came to our neighborhood would completely freak out at all the kids around here, but now I get it. To us it’s completely normal, but I can see now that it’s really not. Despite what it may seem, the city is a kid-friendly place. I appreciate how there are lots of kids where we live, in the playgrounds, walking home from school, drawing hopscotch on the sidewalks (if you’re kid-less here, it might suck for you). I appreciate that we live in a place that is diverse and have friends of all different backgrounds, and I will never take this for granted, especially after our trip out west. This was, in fact, one of the reasons why I moved back. I like hearing different languages everyday. I like that there are so many, and I mean SO MANY, families of mixed races here. I don’t have enough fingers on my hands to count all the multi-racial friends that the girls have. It’s important that they are surrounded by this.

And so…New York…here we are again. I won’t make any promises that I’m a lifer. I don’t know if that’s true anymore, but I am here. Sometimes I don’t know why. You don’t deserve the love after the horrible summer you made us suffer through, but you are making up for it in the Fall. You take, suck our souls and test us at every turn, but we can’t seem to quit you. Maybe we are suckers and fools, but you must be doing something right.

(um…ok, I really hate driving. where else can I live where I don’t have to drive? Please don’t make me drive. damn. Oh, and also the seasons. I need them. Yeah, it was too hot here, but that was also a freak summer. I don’t like being cold in the summer. Or wet in the winter. Also, I need sun. hmmm.)

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  • erin / dfm October 6, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Awww, I love your sweet ode to NY! I visited the city for the first time this summer (I know!) and absolutely loved it. Fell head over heels for Park Slope / Williamsburg / Brooklyn. Man. So in love.

  • linda October 6, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    i love all your posts that mention Seattle and how much you love the city. warms my heart.

    and Mia is right, there aren’t many kids walking around in the city area, mainly 20 and 30 and 40 somethings…but if you guys were to visit more family-friendly neighborhoods, say Gasworks Park, there are kids aplenty! Flying kites, riding bikes, you know, kids stuff.

    And if you guys ever decide to open shop in Seattle, don’t be surprised if I’m a daily visitor for your mallows. =)

  • jenna October 6, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    i really appreciate your writing this, especially since it’s a big mental question i’ve had lately: stay or go? how long? where to run to?

    i know right now that i’m definitely not a “lifer” (good term!), but i do love this city awfully hard.

  • Lichen October 6, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    more and more often i am getting an itch to get out of the south…and then i drive down my street and realize I couldn’t buy neighbors like mine with a king’s fortune…so i stay a little bit longer

  • Chickything October 7, 2010 at 12:29 am

    I’m from Los Angeles and I fall in love with New york over and over through your eyes.

  • Shilo October 7, 2010 at 5:03 am

    As a Seattle native that calls NYC home, all I can say is this: Girl, I feel you.

    Actually that’s not true, I can always say more. I always look forward to reading about your experiences parenting in New York as self-employed people as it seems like it would be (and is) so difficult, yet will probably be my own situation within the next few years. Thanks for reminding me of all the upsides.

  • Annie October 7, 2010 at 7:40 am

    God Jenna, you nailed it 100%.
    It’s easy to want to move at time when you see prices of BIG houses in other towns and cities and are struggling to pay your current mortgage for a tiny place priced double of what that BIG house is.
    I am not sure we’ll be here for life, but for now, we are staying here. Husband us a born and raised Manhattanite and I have become and adopted Brooklynite. We love it here. we love the diversity, we love not being the only mixed couple, we love that our kids get to speak more than one language and not be weird.
    I love being able to walk everywhere and not need a car (like you hate driving and parking).

    We might not take advantage of all the opportunities, but having the option is all we need.

  • RebeccaNYC October 7, 2010 at 8:11 am

    I was JUST talking about this with a friend last night! NYC sort of sucked me dry this summer…the subway ride alone can do that. But I am here until I retire (unlike you I cannot do my job in any other city) and then I don’t know where I’ll go. I’ll probably stay. Where else can you have such mobility in your senior years? Trains taxis busses all available to take you where you need to go. And the diversity! Can’t live without it.

  • bronwyn October 7, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I love when you describe Brooklyn in this way. My San Francisco neighborhood is full of families and we don’t know our neighbors and kids don’t hang out on the street and play. We don’t even really see the same kids at the playground. So I love to read about all the kids playing in the street. It really pulls at my heart strings. Sometimes I contemplate leaving the city, but it never lasts long. I said it once in front of my daughter and she had a fit! I love the energy and the diversity and I don’t even know how to drive. I never learned. I would have to somewhere else. I love that there are so many other multi racial families and that my daughter is not unusual in that way. There have been plenty of times when just about every kid on the playground was multi racial. These things are more important to me than a big house I guess. It’s a bit mellower here than I imagine New York is, so I can pretty easily say that I am a lifer here. Though sometimes your posts make me think of Brooklyn…

  • lucia October 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    This is so spot on, though NY is my family’s Seattle. My husband is from there, and we spend a couple weeks there each summer. Every time we go, without fail we are looking at real estate in the city by the time we leave, with dreams of making it home. When we get back home to Dallas, we find ourselves in a serious post-NY funk for weeks, and sink into all kinds of Dallas-loathing. But then it passes, as you say, and we are ready to make it where we are… as long as we can. Anyway, in light of your ideas about fleeing and the ups and downs of staying, you must read this Onion article my husband forwarded me about NY. It had me rolling, and will, I hope, make you laugh too. http://www.theonion.com/articles/84-million-new-yorkers-suddenly-realize-new-york-c,18003

  • leslie October 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Oh this is such a wonderful post. I been in LA my entire life, and I’m anchored here by my past and by my family. As much as I love and hate it here, I could never leave. . .though we also took a trip to Seattle and Portland in August, and a part of me always wonders what life would be life if we picked up and moved. We stayed in our friend’s HUGE craftsman style home (with a basement!) with views of the water from every window. It was breathtaking and beautiful. . .but you know what? It wasn’t home.

    Home to me is the congestion, the smog, the traffic, the diversity, the food (we do have the best Mexican food), the sun, the beach . . .

  • paule Trudel Bellemare October 7, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Montréal? 😀

  • Lakshmi October 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    I would have said the same about my relationship with Bombay (not Mumbai for me or anyone from my generation – it will be Bombay) a few years back. Sad to say, the city has changed so much. Horribly expensive and polluted and littered with bad traffic… as much as I love Bombay, it isn’t the best place to live any more. And if we were to move back to India, it wouldn’t be my preferred city of residence, I guess. Sad but true.

    Lakshmi

  • Alicia October 7, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    wow, I just stumbled upon your blog today while searching a cranberry dessert recipe and was immediately drawn in. You have a really beautiful, delicate sense of photography. simply gorgeous 🙂

  • Kaci October 8, 2010 at 1:44 am

    Wow, your Seattle is like my Halifax. Fell in love with that city while going to school there. I’m the opposite of you though. I love winter and snow, and Halifax gives me plenty of that. But I can’t see myself living anywhere else but Toronto; I’m attached to this city and it’ll always be my home.

    Maybe you can try Toronto? You definitely don’t need to drive, it’s equally as diverse (in both cuisine and culture), totally kid-friendly, has 4 very distinct seasons, and after 3 years you’d get free health care. Oh, and I want to try your marshmallows.

  • Hanna October 8, 2010 at 8:01 am

    You wrote it in such beautiful way. I usually (just) look at your pics, but from now on I’m gonna start reading, more 🙂

  • hmstrjam October 9, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Hi Jenna,
    I know how you feel, every time we’re in the city we want to be out and every time we’re out we want to be in. Right now we’re on the outs again looking in. You’re so fortunate to have a place of your own, your own business and loving family! We’re finding it impossible to find a sane safe place of our own to live in the city, especially as emerging artists, every time I look at craigslist I want to stick a knife in my eye!

  • patricia c. October 10, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    I understand this completely. I live in Seattle and it is fabulous, the water, the trees, the beloved cafes and bookstores. But, home will always be Pasadena, California. I grew up there, and so love it still. I look at houses for sale and think, maybe… But the reality is I have a wonderful life here, surrounded by a loving family, so how could I leave? And NY? Don’t get me started on how much I love your city. Maybe we all just don’t want to realize that by picking one place to live, we are giving up all the others. I mean, would I be a different person in NY? Have another kind of life? I don’t know, and it makes me sad that I never will know.

  • Bob October 12, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Beautiful tribute… Reminds me of the vigor of those living in New Orleans as well.

  • erin fae October 13, 2010 at 12:03 am

    i left only because i know i will come back. Every image of nyc hurts. I love that city more than anything, but it’s time for me to live in nz for awhile

  • vana October 13, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    can’t speak of NY because I have never visited. Crazy I know! But I can relate in everything you’re saying here. I miss the son, the seasons, the fresh air of my home town in Europe. Each time we visit, i swear I never want to come back to Chicago. There’s something about it though that brings us back each time…can’t point my finger what.

  • kate October 26, 2010 at 1:09 am

    I am kid-less in New York and I love all children around. I especially enjoy the hopscotch chalked onto the sidewalks!

  • Alicia October 26, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I live in Iowa City and highly recommend it if you can handle living in a smallish college town.
    We have all 4 seasons, though NYC is much milder (at least used to be…)
    I never drive my car, even for groceries. It’s a biking town with lots of foodies.
    I have a good friend in Brooklyn and she, too, always goes back and forth about staying or leaving. I’m pushing for her to come back to IC, and we’d love to have you guys, too!

  • Lydia November 23, 2010 at 3:49 am

    I have been doing a lot of reflecting about my time living in New York these past weeks, and I haven’t been able to get this post off my mind ever since I read it over a month ago! You express here so perfectly what I have wanted to verbalize for such a long time. I especially love your second to last paragraph, before the parenthesis. 🙂 I quoted and linked you on my blog…hope that was ok to do!! 🙂
    The feelings are just so beautifully expressed here…Oh NY!

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