I’m a jaded and narcissistic asshole, so I really can’t imagine calling anywhere but New York City home. It’s a city comprised of therapists, transients, and moguls affixed to one another with the thick paste of burning trash and rat feces. Throughout the time that I have lived here, I have only met one or two people that really can’t stand the city–both, for whatever god-awful reason, preferring LA–the majority of folks having major nu-hometown-pride.
And why wouldn’t you? There’s a good reason that you don’t often hear the phrase, “Only in Columbus, Ohio,” or “I saw the craziest man walking down the street in Scranton.” Where else, besides New York, could you see a furry playing a xylophone, adjacent to an illegal immigrant selling churros, standing directly behind a dude that looks like a Dresden survivor hawking his poetry? Maybe Canada, if you’re lucky, but mostly NYC.
When I first moved to the city I was completely dumbfounded. I came from a place where the culture was Mormon, and when there was a Craigslist missed connection written about an Asian, I knew it was me, because I was the only one in the whole state. Suddenly being thrust into a place with actual diversity, counterculture, and real live black people blew my fucking mind. I remember walking into JFK and seeing a Hasidic Jew, and thinking that I had bridged the space-time continuum, or something, because there was no way I was in America in the 2000’s. I slowly circled around him, the way one might around a sleeping Doberman pinscher, wary of making eye contact, until I realized that he wasn’t just a figment of my imagination, and kept trying to sell me diamonds.
I’ve been told that the town that I live in used to be a terrible place to reside, about ten years ago. Lots of gang warfare, fried chicken, and drugs. We now have cute cafés, charming boutiques, well-lit parks, and as with all gentrification, drugs. It’s hard for me to think of that area being a dilapidated scene for screaming bullets opposed to a set for drunken Sunday kickball. So, where did all of those former residents go? Did we take a tip from our forefathers and gift them with Malaria blankets, or did we simply shuttle them out to another impoverished area?
Despite all of the nitty-gritty, and escalating crime rates, New York is still a hotpot of diverse individuals getting along and working together, for the most part. It’s like stepping into the “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” commercial every day. That is, until you see the heroin-addicted Puerto Rican guy holding a razor blade up to the possibly-white-possibly-albino-African-American guy’s throat. Then it’s just like what you imagined the city to be like, in your dreams before you arrived.