Friday, December 21, 2012

Becoming a New Yorker

I've been living in New York City for just two months. Most of the time it feels longer. The one thing that always surprises me with the moves I've made in my life is how quickly I adapt. Humans actually have a great ability to adapt to their surroundings. In the course of just eight weeks, pretty much everything in my day to day life has changed, yet it's starting to feel normal. Like home.

I do still live in a constant state of wonder and there are many times that I can't believe I'm here and that I did this. At the same time, I'm starting to feel like a part of the city. I love listening and watching people, so New York is perfect. You're surrounded by people almost every second of the day, and someone is always doing something interesting or absurd or crazy. It is, however, hard to find a spot where you can be alone or just have personal space. Instead, you learn to create your own world, which can get you in trouble. I've gotten on the train going the wrong way twice not because I was confused, but because I was zoned out.

With time, I've gotten better at reading on the subway. I've actually read a lot of books in the last two months, but sometimes I just sit and take in my surroundings. I use the A express train the most because it stops very close to my apartment and really saves a lot of travel time to lower Manhattan. Since the A has long stretches without stops, it becomes a great train for performances. These typically happen between 125th Street and 59th Street. I've witness various songs and dance routines from people of all ages. I haven't been too impressed yet, but I'm waiting. I'm actually amazed by how much money people give and how low their standards seem to be. I want to see something really good before I pull out a dollar. Where are the drag queens?

My partner and I have also spent a lot of time exploring our area. It's interesting to be in this upper part of Harlem and to see things changing so much. The area is actually becoming more and more diverse and new businesses seem to be moving in on a fairly regular basis. We've tried many restaurants and found a good local coffee shop (where I'm writing this). We feel pretty lucky to have ended up where we did and we love our apartment.

On the job front things are moving along. My partner, Dustin, is enjoying his position with the non-profit organization Harlem United. I've been adjuncting at a school in lower Manhattan that offers degrees in nursing and various other medical things. I teach 8-week English Composition courses. It's something for now as I continue to apply for other positions.

Part of me wishes I would have made the move to New York much earlier in my life, but, after being here, I've realized that my other experiences have made me appreciate the city on a very different level. When I talk with native New Yorkers, they seem to not really grasp what it's like to live in the rest of the country, which is understandable. Life here is so different and the access you have to pretty much anything you want is amazing. I'm actually spending less a month living here than I was in Orlando. Yes, I have a smaller apartment and I don't have a car, but monthly, my bills are a little lower. It's all about what you want to pay for. I'd rather not pay for a car and spend more on rent and live in a city like this. I understand others might want different things.

I'm thankful that I've had diverse experiences. I've lived in the Midwest, in the South, and in Central Florida. Each place was different and unique. Those experiences have made it clear that New York is the place I want to be and that sometimes things happen in an order that becomes clear later.

I'm excited to see what New York will bring in 2013. I have a few things in the works that I'll be sharing soon and I'm looking for new opportunities every day. I'm fairly settled in, so if you live in NYC, hit me up and let's do something.

-Stephen (New Yorking)


  1. Glad you boys are settling in. Happy Holidays!

  2. I think you're absolutely right. Until we had better jobs, we were living in Baltimore in a much smaller apartment, but had to use the car so little. Eventually, we got around with just one car for a while, but it absolutely was not required. Even after we upgraded the housing situation, eventually living in a downtown apartment overlooking the harbor, our monthly bills were still cheaper. When we came back to Kentucky, no one believed it when we said there were many things on the East Coast that were not just cheaper, but significantly cheaper. We loved it out there. Two more years until our son graduates and maybe we'll see you on the coast. :) Until then, good luck!