I lived in New York City for five years — as long as I’ve lived anywhere my entire life. And yet, I’ve barely visited recently. The reasons are two-fold: my practical aversion is that after years in Austin, Vegas, LA and Costa Rica, I don’t have any winter clothes, which limits when I can visit the place I called home. The second reason? My most recent trip there a year ago had been a disaster. My best friends spoil me, visiting Vegas often (and indulging me fun trips to places like Hoover Dam), when not getting married in Maui or throwing a bachelorette party in South Beach. So, I avoided visiting Manhattan. Until a recent trip to New York changed everything…
I don’t know who told me that your first job shapes your entire career, but I firmly believe it’s true. I still set every standard in my work to the two years I spent at New York magazine. (This has sometimes had disastrous results). But those first few years in the workplace in NYC had lasting results in habits outside of the office as well. Not that it was easy: I kicked off my love affair with New York with a difficult year getting my masters at Columbia, before facing the six months it took me to get work. Those were simpler times then, for sure! Little did I know that I would later face almost two years of unemployment during the recession.
One of the facets of life in Vegas that makes me chuckle is that “brunch” can be as early as 10 am. Haven’t you people ever seen Sex and the City? It’s a Sunday afternoon tradition! One that I enjoyed with my girls to kick off my most recent trip, at the delicious Hundred Acres. (I got eggs, of course, always eggs.) When I moved from NYC years ago to find warmer weather and cheaper rent, I really thought that some, if not all, of my friends would follow me west. You don’t really stay in Manhattan for life, do you? Slugging through winter and living in a shoebox… Well, it turns out you do. To this day, all of my old friends still live in the city!
Of course I will never know every single little restaurant in Vegas, but I am definitely close. One of my favorite parts of living in NYC was wandering around, stepping into new places. I had a snack and glass of wine at the bar while wandering Chelsea with a friend during this last visit. I loved this chandelier… I mean, how can you not?! I miss that feeling that around any corner could be a thrilling new go-to spot.
Despite the constant feeling of adventure in the city that never sleeps, it is still a special place to call home. There’s a familiarity to the busy New York streets, even the ones I don’t know. And apartments can feel homey, cozy even, especially because, not in spite of, the small-ness. Whenever I go for work, I stay at the Smyth hotel, which is right down the street from the main offices of Niche Media, where I serve as editor of Vegas magazine. Whenever I check in, I feel like a guest in my old hometown, not a tourist. I always sleep like a baby.
I had such an amazing time during this last trip, although I’m not making any plans to move back… At least not anytime soon! But for some reason, I am so, so happy that I am once again in love with the city that changed my life so. I never faulted the city for anything, but it was starting to feel like a strange dream, how I was so in love with such a tough city. I know that this visit was during the idyllic end-of-summer months, but I don’t care. I have my NYC spark back, and it’s a very special feeling.
How that messy entanglement of a city is giving me peace at this moment is a mystery. But the fact that it is such a puzzle why some people would choose to live in that concrete jungle has always been part of its allure…
At least for an adventure-seeker like me.