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Impressions of New York from somebody who has never been

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Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

They say you can tell when somebody has never visited New York when they walk slow and look up at all the buildings. They also say that a bagel should be thick, dense, and spongey. You never know what you’re gonna get in the Big Apple, which is an omnipotent sentient being as much as it is a place.

I know my way around the city because I’ve been inundated with New York content my entire life. I know, for example, that the L train stretches from Times Square (for tourists only) to Williamsburg (stroller moms). Every stop has a personality that corresponds with a Democratic Party candidate. Pete Buttegieg (boring, corporate) is Manhattan and Tulsi Gabbard (unhinged, fun at parties) is Bed-Stuy. Elizabeth Warren is Grand Central Station while Jeb Bush is the abandoned station they film movies in. I don’t pay attention to American Politics.

According to legends, people randomly piled into Williamsburg when American Apparel still existed, slapped on a smokey eye and a tube dress and ate every meal from a taco food truck. Those were the days. Now it feels like the people who talk about Bushwick (which is lame now) and the people who talk about Flatbush (where?!) are not the same people at all. The jury is out on Crown Heights — unless you’re Chabad. All the New Yorkers (transplants) who became funny on Twitter overnight have been dedicated improv actors and teachers for at least 8 years. It’s bad luck to walk under the arch in Washington Square, which is close to the universities! Juilliard, Upright Citizens Brigade, and Condé Nast are the most famous schools, and everyone else goes to Yeshiva University before they get engaged and live a totally different life from the people who tweet about gentrification. The condos in Manhattan are empty apart from the Trump children, while the old large apartments are full of old-money families who send their kids to the very good public schools (leftists) or the private schools (French).

No trip to New York is complete without a romantic stroll down Canal Street. For your other needs, you need to get creative. Since there’s no Walmart in the whole city so everybody shops at the bodega. A bodega is where you go to look at a cat every day. If you go to New York once, you’re allowed to call any store a bodega. Every birthday and wedding cake is from Milk Bar. Every restaurant is farm-to-table, sourcing locally grown vegetables from the High-Line, where young people go to cry. The dating scene is a nightmare because everyone is soooooo busy! In fact, they’re so busy shuffling they forget to stop cheating!

You know what else they say: Be the intern you want to see in the world! If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. The city can really grind you down… but some day, while you’re walking down the Brooklyn Bridge, you’ll turn and look at the Empire State building and wonder how you could ever live anywhere else that isn’t so outwardly culturally oppressive.



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