I know that many people have a concept of New York City as the big apple, the city of dreams, the city that never sleeps. After having returned from my trip to NYC, I have to say I'm more with Liz Lemon falsely quoting Jay-Z, "Concrete bung-hole, where dreams are made up. There's nothing you can do." I don't want to misrepresent. I did have a lot of fun stomping the pavement and seeing my friend, Katie, and also my homeboy, Steve (albeit briefly). However, coming back to my apartment (which after experiencing a cramped New York apartment seems like a palatial estate all to my own) I realize that I'm a Midwest girl at heart and all that glitters isn't gold. And although it may seem like an obvious thing to say, I also realized I'm actually really happy with my life here in Dayton.
I've written several times bemoaning how I feel like all my friends are more successful, have sexier jobs, have more exciting lives--and I am a failure because I stayed in Ohio with a non-profit job instead of moving to a big city and finding a fancy job. Katie was one friend in particular who looked like she had everything I didn't. So before I visited her this weekend, I mentally prepared myself to be humbled by all the glory of her big city lifestyle compared to my safe, modest, existence. Katie and I picked up where we left off--bawdy humor, scathing observations, and most importantly, the unfiltered brand of honesty that comes from knowing you can say anything to someone and they'll still love you. The more Katie and I compared our changing lives, the more I started to realize there wasn't a great chasm between the angst I've had while transitioning to adult life in Dayton, and Katie's own while transitioning to adult life in New York. There were the same fears, same career frustrations, and the same aching loneliness of being away from college friends and having to start from scratch. I realized, for all the success it looked like she was having--sexy PR job, working the door at rap parties, living in New York--she was just as lost as I was. And worse, homesick and kind of miserable. And while lately I've been preoccupied taking inventory of all the success it looks like I'm NOT having--failed relationships, low-paying job, staying in Ohio--I realized that there are also some definite pluses to my life right now. I'm totally independent (I live alone, I pay my own bills, I have my own car), I have tons of space and privacy, and I am surrounded with the friendly, unassuming people who populate the midwest.
Not that I didn't have a blast taking some time out from the Midwest to enjoy the characters in New York City. And from homeless men, to hipsters, to trust fund babies, there are some characters. Katie and I went to a bar on Saturday night in Brooklyn, a hipster haven of sorts. We walked around Williamsburg during the day, and it was like, "I get it. You're all very cool with vintage clothing and asymmetrical haircuts" Anyway, at the bar this evening, low and behold, in walks a women with bleached blonde hair, curled up and pinned in a very 50s style, with a huge fucking red flower. She was sort of out of place in the sea of muddled brown parkas and tight jeans that make up the hipster uniform, so all eyes turned to her. When she sat down at the bar next to Katie and I, she began animatedly chatting with the sexy Irish bartender who unfortunately, judging by the wedding ring he was sporting, is off the market. After a while Katie and I sort of became part of the conversation, and Katie asked innocently, "Do you work here too?" to our pinup friend. She was HORRIFIED at the question. Only later did I learn that Maddie was in fact a bartender slash "fetish model" which I can only assume means she is oft photographer in pasties while being whipped. But, here's the kicker. She was offended Katie asked, because our friend Maddie is too hip to bartend in Brooklyn, but instead her steakhouse bar is in Tribecca. Oh, well, if Robert DeNiro is the one paying you to bring him his whiskey, I guess you're a fucking big deal.
That is exactly what I can't stand about New York. I don't care how important you are. I don't care if you rub elbows with Harry Connick Jr. or Joan Rivers or Jesus Christ himself, if you have no conversation to offer and no personality with which to dazzle me, I'm done. Another example of New York snobbery reared its head that same evening. This guy and his friend (who looked like Pharrell Williams) approached Katie and I later on in the night. While Katie and Pharrell bonded over her love of rap and his facial similarity to a rapper, I chatted with the other guy, Pete. Turns out, he was not only a beautiful man, but he was also an investment banker on Wall Street. La Di Da! But see, when I got up to go to the bathroom and he's flirting with another girl right in front of my face, then trying to talk to me again, it's like, "Really, asshole?" I guess because he's pretty and rich, and because I'm plain and poor, he thinks I'll put up with being treated like a silver medal. Not so. Maybe next time develop a personality.
So ok, pretentious people exist everywhere, and not just NYC (although its definitely more fun when you have a great friend like Katie at hand who'll make fun of them with you). And yes, if you have some cash to spend, there are broadway shows, shopping, dining, and cultural destinations in New York City which are unsurpassed anywhere else in the world. But I don't love New York with its crowds, dirt, and pushiness, I love Ohio. And lately I've been so busy telling Ohio it's not good enough, sexy enough, intellectual enough (I'm like an abusive boyfriend) I forgot that I do, in fact, love it here. And I love my life. And the grass isn't always greener when you realize it only grows in Central Park and Long Island. I love my friend Katie, I love Art and Culture, and I love people watching. But I also love to sit on my toilet and not be sandwiched in between the wall and the bathtub so tightly I can barely lift my elbows. So New York may not be for me. Equally important, you can't look at someones life and assume you know what's going on, no matter how sexy their concrete bunghole is looking. My trip to New York has made me feel like Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life." I love you, Dayton, you magnificent bastard.