This post is bound to get some people riled. These people are called New Yorkers. Eva, you are a New Yorker. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And this is a piece of your identity that you will take with you wherever you may go.
The first thing you should know about being a New Yorker is that it is an identity rife with conflict, but not ambiguity. It is to have culture (and crass). To be wildly confident, yet endlessly insecure. To be a New Yorker is to be part of a group that is exclusive, yet accepting. Arrogant, but open-minded. Most importantly, being a New Yorker is a state of mind, not a geographical consequence.
You will find that people in New Jersey are true New Yorkers, yet many that reside on the Holy Island of Manhattan itself are as far from the definition as Christopher Hitchens is from God. Those that call you “Bridge and Tunnel” are the most contemptible kind. They are almost always from the Deep South, Midwest, or at the very least, hail from Manhattan’s “purgatory of coolness” (aka Brooklyn). This last type is my favorite. They seem to have such a poor understanding of New York geography that they seem to have lost sight of the fact that they, also, must go over a bridge or into a tunnel to reach the Holy Land.
But rather than rant about what makes the New Yorker self-loathing, I want to focus on what makes us self-righteous. On a highly superficial plane, you live in a land that boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the nation. It is home to many of the world’s most cunning intellectuals and is host to the most dazzling array of culture on our planet. These are the things that will make you swell with pride, but will riddle you with insecurity. New York will teach you that you will never be the best. It will also inspire you to be your best.
And that guy (or is it a woman?) with the purple afro floating down the street on 10-inch platforms donning a fur coat on the hottest day in August? He’s the reason you will never, never, never, ever feel self-conscious about anything. Rock the neon pink skinny jeans and get that pixie cut, honey. Why? Because you realize no one gives a f&ck about you (or what you look like, at the very least). And really, why would you care if they did? You’re a New Yorker.
I hope that New York will eat up your heart and gnaw at your mind. I hope it consumes you. I hope that on the 1,000th day you pass by the Empire State Building it will still make the little hairs on your arm stand like they very first time you saw it. I hope that you’ll nail that first interview with the same chutzpah you’ll use to whack that kid in the head with a Lego bulldozer after he tells you it’s a “boy toy.” I hope you’ll know what chutzpah means.
I hope, mostly, that you won’t have to read this blog because you’ll “just know” what it is and what it means to be a New Yorker. It has nothing to do with being Italian. Little to do with what you wear. And much to do about, well, nothing. It’s a culture that can’t quite be pinned down by the mere use of a mortal’s words. It’s something beyond me. It’s something beyond you. To be a New Yorker is to have an understanding, at your very core, that the term means something bigger than even itself.
And so, my darling, when you are grown and old, go to faraway lands if you must, but always take New York with you.