Photo courtesy of the boy.
It’s been over nine years since I’ve visited New York City.
As a kid, New York was one of the only places I ever dreamed of moving to. That’s pretty common in young girls, I think (especially those who have any sort of music and/or theater aspirations, as I certainly did at the time). But even since, everywhere I’ve lived or visited has been compared to this ideal of NYC that lives in the back of my mind.
I decided to go to school in downtown Atlanta because by the age of 15 the idea of the suburbs seemed intolerable to me. So I passed on the idea of a typical “college town” experience of dorm life and sororities and football games in favor of a campus that most of my friends and schoolmates felt was really intolerable.
I wanted to be downtown. I wanted to walk everywhere, be in the middle of the energy of a city. I wanted to ride the train every day. I wanted to people watch (State was SO GREAT for that). I wanted an eclectic backdrop to my college experience.
It’s admittedly laughable for anyone to compare downtown Atlanta with New York. But when the alternatives are Dahlonega or Milledgeville or Valdosta or even Athens — cool as that may be — the Fairlie Poplar district starts looking more and more like the real thing.
This way of life, ideal to me though odd to most I knew, has stuck with me. The reasons people generally give for never wanting to live in a city like New York, I idealize.
I’ve never romanticized owning a nice car, or a large house for that matter. Ever. I can’t think of a time in my life when I lusted after a car. (A scooter, maybe.) I think in the back of my mind what I’ve alway wanted is to not have to own a car at all. To this day, it sort of pisses me off that everyone is expected to spend so much money on such an unsound investment just because it’s the norm.
I’d rather be able to walk to work, to the store, to wherever I need to go. I’d rather not have to get in a car and deal with traffic for ten, twenty, thirty minutes just to visit a friend or find something to do. I’d rather live in a small apartment. The last two times I’ve moved I’ve actually downsized. I find myself wanting all types of music, every type of food, any type of cultural experience possible, right outside my door. I love the noises and constant bustle of the city. I long for REAL outdoor farmers markets. I want diversity.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m a misplaced New Yorker at heart.
The boy and I are visiting Brooklyn this next week. We’re going to walk around a lot, explore, take some photos, and meet up with an old friend or two. I’m interested to see how the past nine years — and my documented love affair with Decatur — have changed my perspective on the city. Because the other times I’ve visited I haven’t wanted to come back.
Photos to come…