I miss NYC.
I knew I would miss the city when I left in the summer of 2013, but I wouldn’t know I would miss it to this extent. Having lived in NYC for six years, the city has become a part of me, and I believe I have the legitimacy to call myself a New Yorker! I had a love-hate relationship with the city, though. I was incredibly overwhelmed the last year I lived there. The newest innovation of everything keeps flooding in, and I felt like my ability to reciprocate reached its maximum. I couldn’t take it anymore.
But today, I still refer NYC as “the city” whenever it comes up in a conversation. I say ordering a “take-out” or “have it to-go” instead of getting a delivery. My Facebook keeps reminding me how much I hated Time Warner Cable and the United States Postal Service with the “On This Day” feature. I miss how you could be in completely different worlds every ten blocks you walk.
There are so many things I miss about NYC, and below are the 10 reasons that automatically popped out of my mind:
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No. 1, The Food
Want to get drunk on a Saturday morning? No problem. You can easily find brunch places that serve bottomless mimosa or bloody mary with a fixed price. Have dim sum or Korean food craving? Go to Chinatown, K-town or Flushing. You will find some authentic restaurants that satisfy you. What about some all you can eat Indian buffet and 24 hours deli for a Philly cheese steak on a hero or bacon egg and cheese on a roll? Chicken and Rice near the 5th Avenue from the food truck? And how can I forget the pizza! I miss getting a big slice of pizza for dinner. Gah, I even miss the orange chicken and chicken and broccoli from the Chinese takeouts.
No.2, 24 Hours Subway
Despite NYC subways are often under construction or have delays, it’s always running, and it’s one thing I miss the most about the city. Yes, it’s dirty and has rats running around on the tracks. Yes, it smells funky, but I didn’t have to rush home before midnight just because the subway doesn’t run overnight. (FYI: That was my life in Taipei. Taipei doesn’t have 24 hours metro.) I didn’t have to spend a dime on a cab if I don’t want to. I had a choice.
No. 3, Cycling Through The City
I had a bicycle when I lived in the city. A blue one. I bought it for $100USD on Craigslist. It was one of the best purchases I’ve made in my life! Some of my close friends had their own bikes, too, so we would cycle all over the city together. I’ve cycled crosstown through the Central Park, from Harlem to the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, and down to the South Street Seaport on the Riverside Park bike path. I think I accidentally knocked over a cab’s rear mirror on my first bike ride in the city. Oops.
No. 5, The Music and Performing Arts Scenes
Music was one of the reasons why I wanted to move to NYC when I was 14. Classical music, indie music, jazz, rap and hip-hop, Broadway, off-Broadway, EDC, ballet, new music … anything. You name it, NYC has the best to offer.
I went to my first rave in New York. In fact, the city was the only place I’ve ever raved. Some of my craziest adventures happened at Roseland Ballroom, Webster Hall and Terminal 5. And how could I forget the outdoor music performances all over the city during summertime?
If you have the heart for classical music like I do, The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music (my alma mater!) and the Mannes College of the New School of Music all have regular student performances that are free of charge to attend. The students always love new audiences, and of course, they are all amazing! Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center host the greatest performing artists around the world. How to get to Carnegie Hall? No, you don’t need to practice, practice, and practice. Just take the subway and get off at Columbus Circle or 57th street. (For a matter of fact, I’ve performed at Carnegie Hall. Twice :-))
p.s. All above links lead directly to their individual event calendars!
No. 6, The Museums
I miss the Metropolitan Museum in particular. I used to skip classes, bike to the Met, and get in there with the free donation. A couple of bucks would last me an afternoon of wonderous time. Their Bronx branch the Cloisters has fantastic collections, too. The surrounding nature and quietness up there are simply enchanting. Of course, the other museums such as MOMA in midtown, PS.1 in Queens, and the famous Guggenheim are impressive, too.
No. 7, Sunset over the Hudson River
I lived by the Hudson River for the whole six years. Every time, the sunset over the river threw me into another dimension. I had taken countless walks in the woods of Riverside Park. One time, I had wine and cheese on the rocks next to the water and watched the sun went down. I would stay there until the sun disappeared behind the buildings. The sunset never fails me.
No. 8, Summer in Harlem
I lived in Hamilton Heights. Most of my neighbours only speak Spanish. Many of them were from the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico. I used to hate the endless island music blasting on the street. Now I miss it. I miss seeing people just chilling on the street for an awesome time. In Harlem, the vibe is entirely different from other neighbourhoods in NYC. I miss getting tamale from the lady who sells them near where I lived. Having a Jamaican juice or Horchata in the hot summer heat was some of the best delights.
No. 9, You Live in Movies
NYC is the background city in many films. Everyone knows that, so walking pass by film and TV crews in NYC was a part of my daily life. I have friends who randomly became one of the extras in a crime scene from “Law & Order” because the crew was filming right next to our dorms. It happened so frequently that sometimes I would even get annoyed when I had to take a detour because the movie set is blocking the streets. The most well-known movie I’ve seen on set was “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” It was filmed near Broadway and 125th Street. I got this perfect shot cause I was waiting for the subway! (w125th Street Subway Station is above ground.)
No. 10, The Colourful People, The New Yorkers
People from out of town say New Yorkers are rude, but that’s not (entirely) true. I think New Yorkers are real. They (or we) don’t take crap when they (we) don’t need to, and this is the biggest lesson NYC taught me. We can be whoever we want to be. The street artists, the dancers on the subways, the wizard (Yap, I ran into a wizard, you can be a wizard if you want to,) even the homeless are what make NYC unique. NYC is the best definition of a melting pot. Without the people, NYC wouldn’t be NYC, and a real New York experience would not be complete.
And guess what? I am going back to NYC in June!
I am super excited! The trip will only be a week, but this will be my first time going back to the city since 2013. That’s four years! I am looking forward to seeing all my friends there, and I can’t wait to go back to my favourite hang out spots, coffee places, restaurants, and maybe see a show if time allows!
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Also published on Medium.