Real Life: One Year in New York

brooklyn bridge by schizoform

Can you believe that’s the title of this post?? One year. Both the longest and shortest of my life. Okay, so officially, our one year New York-iversary is this coming Sunday, but in the grand tradition of Wednesday Real Life columns, I thought I’d chat about it today.

I was thinking about this quote I once saw somewhere that said something along the lines of, “Someday, this moment will just be another story.” I think that pretty accurately sums up where we were a year ago. We were about to move into a hotel, didn’t know if the apartment we wanted would pan out, and had no idea we’d end up in an emergency sublet situation for much of the summer. I’ll be honest, living through all that was miserable, but enough time has passed that now we can look back and laugh (if not shake our heads a little) at what a rough transition we had to New York City. First the move, then the winter. Oy. I’ve been told by many New Yorkers that this past winter was one for the record books, but here’s the funny thing: having never experienced a winter at all, really, I had nothing to compare it to. So in my mind, it was just a “normal” winter (albeit an extraordinarily cold one).

I found it kind of hard to write a coherent essay about what the last year has been like, so list form seemed like the way to go. Here’s my take on our first year in Manhattan: 

ny8

BEST MEAL I’VE HAD IN THE CITY:

Marea. We celebrated two big occasions there, and for me, nothing beats an order of Ricci (crostini with sea urchin roe and a gossamer thin strip of lardo draped over the top, then torched so it melts slightly and becomes translucent). Second place goes to (embarrassingly enough) Hillstone, which I have no shame about loving endlessly. Always have, always will; I don’t care that I can eat at one in SF, LA and beyond. It’s just so good!

FAVORITE PLACE I’VE BEEN FOR DRINKS:

Late last summer, my friend Katherine took me to The Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel. I don’t know what it is, but I just fell in love with this little spot. The cocktails are always delicious, and I love walking out of the hotel and making a lap around Gramercy Park afterwards. The artwork and decor in the Rose Bar is very Spanish Inquisition meets Pablo Picasso’s bohemian den; it’s funky, a little sexy, and in my mind, very New York.

ny2

THING I WOULD MISS THE MOST IF I MOVED:

The rain. Joe was the first to comment on the fact that in spring and summer, the rain here is warm. That is not something we really experienced in northern California, where rain is COLD. We like the warm rain so much that just the other day, we ran through it together sans umbrella (it was cute and romantic).

TRUEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD ANYONE SAY ABOUT NEW YORK:

“Here, you’re always fighting.”

This was said to me by a woman I often see in the park, walking her Frenchie (who Lucy is friends with!). She had just returned from a trip to SF with her family, and was telling me about how relaxing it was, especially compared to NY. “It’s amazing,” she said, “I forgot what it feels like to be truly rested, and relaxed. Being here, you’re always fighting.” It’s totally true. In NY, people are fighting to get on and off the subway, to get a better job, to get a cab, to get noticed. It’s exhilarating, and it’s also exhausting.

ny6

FAVORITE NEIGHBORHOOD SO FAR:

I like the UES (it’s clean and less chaotic), and Flatiron/Gramercy a lot.

PLACES I LIKE TO VISIT THAT NEVER GET OLD:

Central Park, our outdoor terrace, Union Square Greenmarket, and ABC Carpet & Home

ny7

MOST EXPENSIVE CAB RIDE TO DATE:

Other than those to the airport…UES to Tribeca, 6:30pm, nearly $40 (what were we thinking?)

BEST DEAL ON A CAB RIDE TO DATE:

UES to Greenwich Village, 6pm, in a raging thunderstorm, $20 (a gypsy cab driver did NOT know how to negotiate)

ny5

WEIRDEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN:

I know I’ve seen some weird shiz, but I always seem to forget about it because I’m only phased by it for like half a second before moving on. If you live in New York, feel free to share your story below — I’m sure that’ll jump start some weird ass memories. This isn’t so much weird as it is just the randomness of living in New York, but I didn’t meet our lone neighbor until about 6 months after moving in. We never saw her, never ran into her, nothing. Finally, one day right before Christmas, we ran into her as we were leaving our apartment. Introduced ourselves, that was it. Just this week, Joe saw her again, got to talking, and discovered she also went to USC (like the both of us). And she was there at the same time as us. What are the odds? I was very amused that out of all the buildings in New York, our little building with its two units ended up housing all USC grads.

INSTANCES OF PUBLIC NUDITY:

1 on a sidewalk; at least 5 more if you count all the people who live in the co-op across the street from me and don’t have any kind of window coverings on their bathrooms. Also, one inadvertent event involving ME, when I was changing clothes in my bedroom the week after we moved in, and some construction guys saw me as naked as the day I was born. File that one under “Moments I wish I’d opted for Overnight Shipping on the Curtains We’d Ordered” (um, hopefully that file stays small).

ny3

MOST AWKWARD SUBWAY EXPERIENCE TO DATE:

It’s not even that scandalous, BUT…it was just so awkward… When a woman I was standing next to and a gentleman seated right in front of her got in a literal screaming match because she had accidentally stepped on his foot during rush hour. The entire car went silent as they duked it out verbally and began calling each other all kinds of very inappropriate (read: racially insensitive and misogynistic) names. They tried to get me involved to serve as referee as to who was in the right. I pretended I had ear buds in, even though I didn’t. Just look ahead, and don’t make eye contact, people.

JOE’S FAVORITE NEW YORK  STORY:

Joe really, really hated the winter. He likes to recount his misery of stepping in 8″ deep puddles of dirty, slushy water at street corners, because he’d always mistake them for frozen patches of ice. And, how here on the UES, the streets weren’t plowed as much (did you hear about this?), so residents took those plastic street barricades to form bridges over said slush puddles. I never saw this, but he remains deeply amused by it.

ny4

FAVORITE PLACE TO SHOP:

Online. How about that? You move to the city with the greatest opportunities for retail therapy in the U.S., and you end up buying everything online. This is one of the ironies of living in New York.

PLACES WE ORDER FROM THE MOST ON SEAMLESS:

Mama Gyro, Chopt, A La Turka and Andaz

ny1

THING THAT ANNOYS ME THE MOST ABOUT LIVING IN NEW YORK:

How deceptively inconvenient everything is. This city is touted as being among the most convenient, but really, I think it’s the opposite. For example, on paper, the idea of having groceries delivered to you is highly convenient (and practical, since if you buy a bunch of stuff, you have to have someone with you to help you catch and load it into a cab). However, once you’ve settled on delivery, you’re then handcuffed to your apartment until the sundries arrive — and even though most markets give time windows, I’ve never had them be on time, ever. If we order groceries from Whole Foods, we typically have to block out an entire weekend day to wait for them to arrive (which is why we started doing a lot more smaller trips to the farmers market, which saves us the waiting time, but is still inconvenient, because it’s not exactly close to us). I guess this is why some people look for doorman buildings. But I’ll never agree with people who say this city is “convenient”, because honestly, getting in my car and driving to run my own errands will always be infinitely less stressful than it is to order anything online and worry about missing the delivery guy. And yes, we’ve tried FreshDirect. I was underwhelmed by the produce.

Note that my complaints about quality produce availability and grocery delivery are probably not that common, because as I have also discovered, many, many New Yorkers do not really cook at home.

THE THING THAT I LOVE THE MOST ABOUT LIVING IN NEW YORK:

It’s much, much bigger than you. And it doesn’t care. Both of those things sound so fatalistic, but to me, they’re reassuring. Let me explain.

Last year in late April, when we visited the city to look for an apartment, the tulips were in full bloom everywhere. There are many sidewalk planters in this city, but most notable are the huge plantings of tulips that pop up in the median running down Park Avenue. You can’t miss these tulips. They’re among the biggest I’ve ever seen in my life, and deeply saturated in color. Just stunning. Last year when I saw the tulips in between apartment hunting, I thought, “Oh, how pretty.” And that was it — I didn’t give them another thought. This year, when they popped up again, I was reminded of how much has changed and happened in our lives since they made their appearance last year. And just like last year, they’ll eventually wither away and die, and then it will be hot in the summer and muggy in the subways, and people will picnic in Central Park again and bask in the heat. And in the fall, the leaves will change, the city will flood with people returning from the summer, and eventually, evergreen trees will be planted where the tulips once grew. Snow will fall; people will step in slush puddles and wait for spring, and then, one warm-ish day, the tulips will appear again. All of this will happen, year after year, because New York just goes on. It doesn’t give a f**k. I think about all the people in this city who were born, who died, who arrived here, who moved away from here, who got married, got divorced, got fired, got hired, made new friends, or learned something about themselves in the last year. New York doesn’t care. It will always return, it will always keep on. It’s kind of neat to be a part of that, even in the most minuscule way, and even for the briefest moment in time. And more often than not, it’s the realest reality check one could have — YOU are not significant, you’re just part of the thing, and that’s what’s significant. It’s something that’s really hard to explain, unless you’ve lived here.

And on that note, we’ll see where the next year takes us!

Past New York Observations and Adventures:

10 Months in New York

6 Months in New York

On Moving and Life

Around Here (A Summertime Photo Diary)

When we got the apartment

House Hunters New York

West Coast, East Coast: 10 First Impressions of NY vs. SF

 

Image Credits

“Brooklyn Bridge” by Schizoform; used under Creative Commons license 2.0, with some modifications made by me. All other images via my Instagram.

Leave a Comment

35 Comments

  1. 5.14.14

    I really enjoyed reading your experience settling into NYC, Victoria. It made me reflect on my own experience coming here (many) years ago, and it kind of made me think that the timing of coming here–especially as it relates to your age and your range of living experiences–really makes a big difference in how the city grows (or grates) on a person. I moved straight from a dorm to a city apartment at barely 22, so the noise of the city was more exhilarating than exhausting. I can imagine that after already being married and working for several years in pretty CA, a move to NYC could be really jarring. It sounds like you’ve come here with an open mind and heart, and you’re going to be rewarded with even more fun and interesting stories. And you’ve given me–who’s lived here 15 years already–some new recommendations of where to go. So thank you! :)

  2. 5.14.14
    Alyssa said:

    What a great post! :”New York just goes on. It doesn’t give a f**k”–I love it!

    ps-Give Fresh Direct another go. It really is awesome and is a game changer when living in NYC! I’ve usually had good luck with their produce although randomly some things won’t be great (most commonly the bananas and the avocados). Maybe get your produce at a farmer’s market or local grocery and Fresh Direct everything else?

  3. 5.14.14

    My current tally is more like 2 1/2 months in NYC (also coming from California), so I definitely have not yet had the life-cycle-of-the-city experiences you’ve mentioned here. But I am inching closer to the 3-month mark, which I remember you saying before was when you really start thinking of yourself as settled in a new city. I’m with you on the push-pull of being new in this place: it’s overwhelming and gorgeous and just so MUCH. Even though we’ll go back to CA at some point, I love this adventurous space in time and the ability to mark a little spot in the sweeping history of New York as being “ours.”

  4. 5.14.14
    Chelsea said:

    Loved reading this post! So many cool things. Happy one year of living there! xo

  5. 5.14.14
    V said:

    Wow, what a great post! I am obsessed with your font and type layout, really, really easy and nice to read.

    I thought your views on living in the city were really interesting from an outsider’s viewpoint. You should do this every year that you are in NYC…see what changes (if anything) about your perspective.

    Very fun read!

    V @ Life+1
    New Post : Things to Do: Florida Keys

  6. 5.14.14
    Sarah H. said:

    I moved here about 10 months ago, and all I can say is YES – to every word of this! Feels like my year and experience in a nutshell. What an insane, incredible, exhausting, amazing ride it’s been! Year two, shall we? ;)

  7. 5.14.14
    Kendall said:

    Loved reading this! It’s amazing all the things that can happen in a year. Doesn’t it feel good to have taken the risk to move to NY and have had all those experiences? Just had my 1-yr anniversary in a new city, too.

  8. 5.14.14
    Rose said:

    Wow, Victoria—this is an incredible post! I blogged through my first two anniversaries in NYC (coming up on my third, which is just crazy to me) and I feel like you captured everything incredibly succinctly. I have so many crazy moments and stories, like the time I literally walked past someone as I left work and realized he was shitting on the sidewalk—yes, you read that correctly (and my office at the time was just south of Times Square!). Also, as a single girl in NYC I have countless crazy date stories, so many that my friends and I have joked I need to write a book (especially because even though NYC is a GIGANTIC place and I can go months without seeing a nearby neighborhood, I’ve somehow run into every. single. guy. I’ve dated with one singular exception).

    I think what sticks out to me the most, though, is your post about always fighting, and that could not be more true. It is exhausting at times, but when you get what you’re fighting for it feels all the more rewarding.

  9. 5.14.14
    Jill said:

    I’ve lived here almost 4 years, and chuckled to myself when I read about your experiences because most are also true for myself. This post is inspiring me to write my own New York recap. Love your blog!

  10. 5.14.14

    I love the last paragraph. LOVE. Cheers to another year in one of the greatest cities in the world!

  11. 5.14.14

    This is such a thoughtful and comprehensive recap! I did the opposite switch —years in New York before moving to San Diego—and I’m experiencing things in reverse. (SD weather can’t be beat, but I miss warm summer nights. Driving makes some things easier, but traffic, accidents, and responsibilities associated with a car are a nightmare. Oh, and I miss proper public transportation.) What resonated most was how you said in NYC, you always have to fight. I found that so true, and it’s always how I describe my time in NY. I felt like everything—mostly the mundane, seemingly simple stuff—was a struggle. Groceries, rain, picking up a package at the UPS on 42nd and 11th because the delivery man can’t leave it at your apartment. Those were the things that brought me down. BUT, I do love the “don’t give a f— attitude” you talk about. There’s really no place like New York, for worse and for better. Here’s to another year!

  12. 5.14.14

    Great words, it is funny how after living in the city for over 10 years, sometimes it feels like 1 year. I think I was on that same subway car as you! Happens all of the time :) Glad you are liking NYC though!

  13. 5.14.14

    Loved reading this post, V!

  14. 5.14.14

    I love this post! I’m from SF so I always love hearing stories of people who move. XO

    http://dearserendipity.com/

  15. 5.14.14

    It sounds like you’ve adjusted well. I’ve never lived in NYC but visited many times. Here’s to more good times in NYC.
    http://www.robincharmagne.com/blog

  16. 5.14.14
    Lily said:

    Congrats on your anniversary! these are great reflections — you’re a wonderful story teller!

    x Lily
    http://whilemyboyfriendsaway.blogspot.com/

  17. 5.14.14
    Alexandra said:

    I love these posts, Victoria! It sounds like you’ve had a successful first year in NYC. But I was sort of hoping that at the end of it all you’d say you were moving back to SF. :)

    xx,
    Ali

    • 5.14.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Ha, eventually, we hope! Stay tuned. :)

  18. 5.15.14
    Rachel said:

    Have been waiting on this post for 1 year and absolutely loved it! Congratulations to you guys on an exciting, eventful, surprising, fun-packed, interesting twists year! We hope to see you soon!

  19. 5.15.14
    Agoprime said:

    beautiful photos!!
    http://www.agoprime.it

  20. 5.15.14

    This is such a magazine-worthy post! Loved it!

  21. 5.15.14
    Bee said:

    Loved this post. I currently have a few friends from California that are living in Brooklyn that I plan on visiting soon. I’ve always told myself that I’d love to live in NYC one day, but I don’t know if I would be overwhelmed. The whole reason I love living in San Diego is the very laid back lifestyle and the perfect weather. I know that I would be losing those two things if I moved to NYC

  22. 5.15.14
    Katherine said:

    Love this post, love Hillstone and love having you in NYC!!! xx

  23. 5.15.14
    Kelsey said:

    Really enjoyed this post – beautifully written!

  24. 5.15.14
    Kat said:

    Enjoyed this. I first moved here when I was 23, then left for grad school, and am now back. The first time, it was wild and hectic and a very typical NYC experience (the “fight” and all). I was sad to leave and surprised when I got the opportunity to move back. Now I live in Brooklyn and find it to be a lot more relaxed and almost easy.

    And I know you’ve heard it before– but this winter really was the worst! I’ve spent many winters in Colorado and Boston, but this was the longest, coldest winter of my life. I LOVE winter, but it was too much even for me.

  25. 5.16.14
    Sarah said:

    Beautifully written post.

  26. 5.19.14
    Dana said:

    I love this so much and can relate to almost all of it (especially with being a NYC newbie!). FIrst of all – I LOVE love Rose bar also. Such a cozy little place! Also – the amount of online shopping I do… I swear it’s increased since I moved here. I very rarely shop in the store, and when I do, I usually just do so to get ideas and don’t purchase anything. All stores are too busy anyway! I get made fun of at work for all the packages that come along. Third – the nakedness. When you live smack dab next to another building or immediately across from another building, it’s unavoidable unless you want to go through the work to close your curtains every. single. time. you change.

    New york is great, challenging, fun, hard… pretty much all the above all the time. love your post!

  27. 5.22.14
    Alexandra said:

    OMG I love this post so much! I have been only once in NYC but this is my favorite city EVER. Reading this is like a sweet escape for me :-)Are you planning to stay there temporarily or on the long term ? Xo, alexandra
    http://www.glamoclock.com

    • 5.22.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      We kind of think temporarily, but the thing is, we have no idea how long that would be. Could be another year, could be 5. Who knows! I do think we’ll eventually move back to SF, we just really love it there!

  28. 5.22.14
    Anna said:

    Love this post! I just discovered it via Amy’s blog and you capture NYC with so much accuracy. I live in the UES too and feel exactly the same way about everything, and to be honest, I usually hate how much NYC doesn’t care and how inconvenient it is, but reading how much you’ve taken it in stride actually helps me love it a little more, too.

  29. 5.30.14
    Maddy said:

    This is making it so hard for me to stay in SF! I just got back from an NYC trip a few weeks ago and have determined I MUST move there within the next couple of years. Ack!

  30. 9.23.16
    Chloe said:

    If you want to move to New York City from Victoria can you start to work straight away and not for a year permanently

Subscribe to the newsletter

No spam, only goodness. I send occasional newsletters filled with my favorite links, great reads, and personal updates.