There’s nothing better than getting lost in New York.
Which is impossible if, as a friend says, you can count. Even more impossible given my years living there.
Yet it's completely possible if you slip into all black, throw in your earphones and hide behind your Ray Bans. You blend into the background. The anonymity New York City affords is its greatest gift.
So yeah, I get lost every time I’m there.
I had lunch today with an old friend who moved to New York about a year ago. I’m coming up on my 10-year anniversary of leaving The City, after being there for 11. And I’ve been there twice in the last 8 weeks. Which is all to say, I’ve got New York City on my brain.
It’s occurred to me more and more lately that as much as I love my life in Chicago, in many ways I still identify as a New Yorker. And many people still identify me as one, which cuts both ways.
I've said it so many times I don't know if I made it up or stole it: Chicago is the greatest city in the United States. New York is the greatest city in the world. One isn’t better than the other, because they aren’t in the same group. Just like cheeseburgers are my favorite meal and corn is my favorite vegetable.
Specific things I love (that I thought about today after lunch):
- That I’ve been on certain subways so often I know which side the door opens for 10 consecutive stops.
- Graffiti. Specifically, really good graffiti. Which my younger son was really into on a trip we took, and made me stop and appreciate it.
- Food. Not the fancy places. The average neighborhood places that somehow seem better than the average neighborhood places in any other city.
- That you can easily spend $60 on breakfast and $4 for lunch on a slice of pizza, unrivaled.
- Walking. Everywhere. I still walk more than anyone I know. But it’s not the same in Chicago. London’s the only other city I’ve found that comes close.
- An overwhelming sense of purpose and urgency. People don’t like their time wasted, and they don’t like to waste time.
- That despite their reputation, New Yorkers are the friendliest, most helpful people I’ve ever known.
- The New York Post, which I still read every single day. Not most days. Every.
- 15 years later, the shared respect we have for others who were there on 9/11.
- Deli flowers. But NOT deli cats.
The list could go on forever. This is off the top of my head.
Truthfully, I'm glad I don't live there anymore. But I can still love it. Always will.