I’d like to launch right into my very first post on this blog, not with a story about Boston, but with a story about New York City. Last Friday I drove down to Queens for my friend Mary’s 21st birthday party—a trip, which, according to my sadistic GPS, should take roughly 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete. I left at 1 p.m. and arrived at Mary’s around 6:30… just in time to throw on a little black dress and smear some of that icky yet obligatory “going out” eyeliner on my lids.
“Are you fucking ready yet?” My friend Zoe screeched from Mary’s bathroom. “New York waits for NO ONE, Eliza.”
Just for the record, I love New York City. I grew up in Brookline, Mass, but I went to a small liberal arts college not twenty minutes from uptown Manhattan. The city was always my little escape. Escape from that deafening silence of the suburbs, from the rigor of academics— not to mention it provided a much-needed break from the constant stench of all those raw foodists and loud hippies who dominated the otherwise quaint little campus on which I lived.
So yes, I love New York City. I love the smell of bus exhaust, bagel shops, and greasy street vendor kielbasa. I love how my breath catches in my chest and my eyes go starry each time I see the NYC skyline advancing across the Hudson River. But ever since I graduated from college in May, and having lived back in the Boston area for months now, I must have gained some subliminal perspective on what this city has become. For this most recent visit has made me wonder if the illustrious Big Apple hasn’t begun to rot a little bit.
Mary chose to spend her barhopping 21st birthday bash in Queens. She grew up in Forest Hills and wanted to stay local—a wise choice considering that a beer in midtown Manhattan costs about $9 and a cocktail is $12.50.
We had dinner at TGI Fridays… a fun but rather philistine choice for a birthday dinner (the potato skins are delightful, however). Afterwards, we meandered over to a bar called The Station House… slightly more upscale than say, Dirty Pierre’s, but certainly not as expensive as Woodhaven House. It had a great vibe inside… honestly, it was the type of place I could imagine my boyfriend and I spending a Tuesday night. Since we were all together as a group (Me, Mary, her friends, and her boyfriend’s insufferable cronies) we were able to be seated at a big table in the back where we could just drink, be loud, and make fun of each other, uninterrupted. It was fun. Around 10:30 Mary and her boyfriend starting fighting, so I went over to the bar to order Mary a birthday shot— figuring alcohol would either fuel or assuage the bickering, and I was hoping for the latter. The shot of tequila came relatively quickly—I charged the $9.00 to my bank card, then as I was signing the receipt, a guy in a horrible striped V-neck sitting on the stool next to me leaned towards my ear and asked: “So, what makes you different?”
Not sure whether this question was the start to a stupid joke, a come-on, or something else… I replied by asking, “I’m sorry, what?”
“You’re at a bar in New York City. What makes you different from every other beautiful woman who lives here, and who’s doing the same exact thing right now?”
Aaaaaaaaaand that was the moment I decided that, as much as I love New York City, I love Boston more.
I never answered his question. I sort of squinted at his face as if to ascertain whether or not he was kidding… but in the end I just walked away. What I should have said was: “You know what makes me different? I chose not to live here.”
Arrogance. Presumptuousness. Disdain. Hauteur. OH MY GOD. THE GALL. THE AUDACITY. Where the hell did that come from? I know New York City has a rich history, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, entertainment and blah blah blah but seriously?! At least in Boston we harbor some sense of remaining identity that doesn’t revolve 100% around how beautiful you are or how much rent you pay for your apartment.
New York City is an enormous melting pot, and I will ALWAYS love New York for that. Of all the cities in America however, it also has one of the widest disparities in wealth, and I think in many way that has manipulated the wealthier individuals who live there, into thinking that they are gods on earth. They are not. Most are douchebags. I can say that because I lived there.