The seven year itch
So they say that every relationship has a huge test after year 7. People try to reevaluate the reasons why they are together and find ways to fall in love again, that’s what I’m going through—a huge evaluation of my relationship with New York City. I’ve been a resident here for almost 7 years and coincidentally I’ve wanted to live here since I was seven years old. There has been a decrease in happiness and satisfaction over the past few years and now it’s even more apparent.
I grew up in a small village, where growing up, the only access I had to information was a battery-powered radio and books in the library. When my mum went abroad and sent me books to read, I read about Ellis Island and the immigrants who came here—some actually assumed that the streets were paved in gold. I knew that New York’s streets were not paved in gold, but I did love that it was considered a “melting pot.” I’d always been fascinated by different ethnicities and culture so I realized, since then, that I’d be more comfortable in an environment where I could see everyone.
Years after moving here post-college, I was thrilled to acknowledge that I was living my dream. I’m not well-known nor am I super rich but, I’m not destitute and I live comfortably enough to have a balance. Some people don’t make it here at all (I’d still love to be making more though).
However the things that I can’t get used to, along with coming of age, is the lost friendships and tumultuous relationships that many New Yorkers bond upon. This city has the most single women (150,000 more than men) of all U. S. cities and, although for men, this should be a good thing, there’s no rational to a “normal” person why some of these shocking dating stories exist. However they do (I’ve endured a few of them). Friendships die off as quickly as they are born once situations exhaust their worth. Many blame them on busy lives although it’s proven that people make time for things that matter. It’s easy to get caught in mini cycles of those experiences over and over again. You find someone you have things in common with, form a bit of a hive and kick them out of your bubble once you realize you have nothing in common past that one thing. Despite the shocking stories and experiences that the city has left me in, it’s fascinating how resilient I’ve been while being surrounded by the concrete jungle but I realized it’s possible only because I was once a foreigner.
I’m writing this as I commute to yet another destination on a train that I had to catch a connection to. It’s a weekend and as I observe my surroundings, I’m wondering if New York City is doing it for me anymore. Is my New York chapter complete, or is this just one of them? Will I have multiple chapters here? Whenever I visit elsewhere I’m always excited to return to call my small apartment with my king size bed my home. I had promised myself years ago, when I used to visit the city on holiday that I wouldn’t be one of those people who were left unsmiling sitting in the seats. Why weren’t they smiling? Well, present day, I know why. When you commute and someone stares at you, you don’t know their intention. Smiling could make you appear weird or eagerly inviting. You don’t want to attract psychos. I no longer smile towards the direction of strangers, even if they are cute.
Not long after I write this, someone will walk in the subway car, desheveled, it’s a known fact that he’s going to beg for money. “Ladies and gentlemen!” He’ll announce. “I’ve lost my job and now I’m homeless.” He will beg for money and stare at me with pleading eyes. In the back of my mind I’ll remember that I can’t distinguish between who is telling the truth and who isn’t. I’ll also remember that panhandling is illegal and there are places that the homeless can get help. I’ll also remember the This American Life podcast (listen here) where I learnt that one of them made at least $400 a day begging. That’s tax free… That’s more than I’ll ever make in one year, but I digress.
I need to fall in love with the city again. There are moments when I do but it’s temporary… Often interrupted by experiences like being spat upon by a stranger sitting across from me on the train or getting peed on when getting out of a train when I was running late to my date. I’ve somehow managed to remain in love through other experiences. It’s like I’m searching to make this emotion permanent. It’s when I see someone that I’m attracted to until he speaks. Or someone I find something in common with over a drink. It’s the confidence that I have when I meet someone shy. It’s easily swiping my unlimited metro card through a turnstile and going destination anywhere, within the five boroughs. It’s running in Central Park or Prospect Park and checking out nature. It’s building mileage through ultramarathon training by getting out of the city or finding art around the city. It’s when I try a new cuisine. It’s when I have crazy stories to tell my parents. It’s when I discover that I’m maturing. It’s when I realize that I live in the most envied city on earth and it’s not my final destination because every relationship is meant to be reevaluated.