I don’t think I could ever live long term in New York City.
When I was eighteen, I lived in New York for about four months, but you and I both know that’s about as short term as it gets. Before I left my humble hometown with a population of barely six thousand (though this is misleading because it’s nestled in a county with a population of over 3 million), I had read somewhere that it takes ten years to become a bona fide New Yorker. New York, with a population of 8.01 million in 2000 and 8.24 million in 2011, knows that not everyone who loves her can bear her. I don’t need to ask the State Department or the Census Bureau to get exact numbers – I was the exact number of one, a person who came, tried to mold myself to the city, and found myself rather inflexible in my So Cal sensibilities.
The city, it can be said, is like a pair of beautiful but painful high heels. (This is the Vogue/Glamour/Elle reader writing) Some women will see the shoes in a shiny shop window and buy them on impulse, knowing they are impractical. They will shove their feet in and wobble around in front of the mirror, mixing and matching the shoes with various outfits that are in reality, various idealized versions of themselves but at the end of the day, they prefer the comfort of their Converse sneakers and their TJ Maxx flats. “Heels be damned,” this woman thinks, “it makes more sense to walk the road in more comfortable shoes.” If the woman has kept the receipt (and usually a smart woman does) she will return the shoes.
“They will look good and be good for somebody, but not for me.”
But another woman will spend every last penny she has on the high heels, thinking “Comfort be damned, I live for glamour!” She will teeter and totter just as the first woman did, but in most regards she is steely. Her heels will bleed, her toes will ache, but still she will insist on wearing them in the light of day, outside the house with the outfits that may have at first presented an idealized version of herself but over time, came to exhibit exactly who she is. She will walk and walk and in ten years’ time or perhaps less she will stride through the streets in the shoes that have molded to the shape of her foot yet still retained their distinctive shape and designer allure. It is a shoe that everyone recognizes but that brings out, like magic, something different in every woman.
That is The City. Everyone can try it on for size and comfort, but whether you choose to stay, that is a different endeavor altogether.