I moved to Manhattan 13 years ago. Here's what I've learned.
I drove a U-Haul from Texas to Hell's Kitchen/Clinton in 2001. I’ve since learned that every time I tell people that, they’ll respond, “Wait... did you...?” -- at which point I have to clarify that I moved here in March, or they’ll inevitably assume I showed up September 10th.
I’ve also learned that in a city of over eight million, you’ll meet at least five people who did move here September 10th. If you stay long enough, you’ll meet at least five of everyone, and every one of them will be completely different.
But the first thing I learned about New York was that it’s the least lonely place in the universe.
Lonely is 13 years after you don’t move to New York, when you’re standing in a 24-Hour Fitness doing lateral deltoid raises so your body might reasonably approximate the much younger work bros you started hanging out with after the last of your real friends got married and/or remarried. Lonely is standing on your work bro's boat at "Party Cove", waiting for a girl to come twerk on you, but nobody comes to twerk on you, no matter how hard you work those delts.
Here’s what’s not lonely:
Arriving in New York and realizing you already know twice as many people as you thought, then somehow becoming better friends with those peoples’ friends than they are.
Meeting a million interesting people within two blocks of your apartment. You just don't wake up in Topeka and think, "I'm gonna grab a coffee and strike up a friendship with a cat-loving personal trainer who studies the deadly art of prison kung fu and once sold Nate’s dad a fake passport on Gossip Girl."
Meeting anyone who got their MBA at Michigan. If you make friends with one Michigan MBA, you will become friends with 20 Michigan MBAs.
It’s a little sad when you find you just can’t keep up with all these wonderful souls, but it is not lonely.
I've learned it's better to be broke living in a neighborhood you like, than mostly broke living in a neighborhood you hate (or rich in a neighborhood where almost everybody hates you).
I’ve learned that there’s a world of difference between an eviction notice and getting evicted.
I’ve learned to think about money exclusively in terms of bodega item arbitrage. Focusing on that $1 you saved on a pint of Chubby Hubby takes your mind off the Americone Nightmare of NYC rent and taxes.
I’ve learned that just because The City never sleeps doesn’t mean I have to stay up and keep it company.
I’ve learned that people from New Jersey and Long Island really are that awful, except the dozens of them I’m friends with, who are all great people who would never vomit on my sidewalk or molest someone on my sidewalk, or molest my sidewalk.
I’ve learned that brunching is now more popular than mugging, and that the subway is safe even at 5am... unless you consider thoughts like, “Am I really that different from this man sleeping in a pool of his own filth?” dangerous. I’m not saying we’re living in Utopia. For instance...
... somebody set this car on fire in front of my apartment the other night...
... and it stayed out there a week before they finally towed it. Some guy actually slipped and fell on the frozen, melted, plastic sludge.
Also, people still get murdered. But I grew up walking to elementary school past John Hinckley, Jr.’s childhood home, and this kid I know got pistol-whipped outside a West Dallas strip club after he said something like, “Why don’t you give me your wallet!” 2014 New York’s not a battle zone, it’s just another place where bad things can happen.
I’ve learned that I probably don’t have what it took to make it, back when New York was a battle zone. It’s one thing when bad things happen. It’s another thing when bad things are never not happening.
I’ve learned that when you meet a 1970s-'80s survivor, you should just be yourself, and not some kiss-ass who can’t stop apologizing for gentrifying the old neighborhood.
Maybe you wouldn’t have thrived as a teen runaway living in Tompkins Square Park with a neighbor who killed his girlfriend and fed her to homeless people, but maybe you would have. Nobody but a total fraud or very legitimate acid casualty would expect you to build the time machine required to prove it.
I’ve learned that New Yorkers genuinely care about each other, even when there's not a natural disaster. When Sandy hit, sure, The Hog Pit let me sleep on a banquette and drink free English cider for a week, but I've also met guys who'd walk around town in pink rabbit suits for hours, just to post some pictures to perk up a sick friend.
After the woman down the hall from me passed away, my neighbors left flowers, and their children taped a poster board tribute to our building’s front door. She was a birthday party clown who lived with a magic rabbit -- so maybe she was lonely, but she’s not unremembered.
I've learned that the guy in Apt #3 is probably the one who broke the mirror and urinated in the front vestibule, and now he just doesn't remember doing it.
I’ve learned that the people (racists, Jesse Jackson) who say New York is full of Jews aren’t kidding. There are so many Jews up here. I know a girl who pretended to be Jewish growing up, just to fit in. It’s an amazing story -- if you’re one of the many Jews in the New York City publishing industry, you should get her contact info from me and give her a book deal.
On the other hand, I’ve discovered that native New Yorkers are invariably shocked to learn there are Jews in Texas. Clearly they've never read Lone Stars of David: The Jews of Texas, by Hollace Ava Weiner and Kenneth D. Roseman, and didn't attend my sister's bat mitzvah, at which me and my goyim friends totally partied.
I've learned that I will never find out what happened to the other shoe. No one ever finds out what happened to the other shoe.
I’ve learned that in New York, you can stay happily unmarried so long, The Times will write a trend story about the big group of unmarried people you hang out with -- and that by the time The Times publishes it, you’ll all be divorced.
I’ve learned that finance guys are either the last to admit that the finance industry is pure evil, or the first to admit it.
I’ve learned that underneath their day jobs, some are excellent pianists who don't own televisions, while others are exactly the raging douchebags you were so wrong to presume they’d be. Then again, I’ve seen an art gallery owner arrogantly piss in the corner of a restaurant patio, and a guy who worked for a website (whose mission is to pillory the entitled) abuse his subordinates with such bitchy ferocity, you’d think Oliver Stone invented him after getting tired of caricaturing evil finance guys.
In other words I’ve learned that the biggest douchebags are the ones who insist douchebag is an industry-specific term.
I’ve learned I don’t care for people who say they’re from New York when they’re not. If you’ve lived here 13 years -- or even just eight years -- you can call yourself a New Yorker, but you can’t say you’re from New York. You’re from Dallas, or wherever, and no matter how much you learn, you’ll always be from Dallas, or wherever.
And I’ve learned that there’s nothing wrong with Dallas, or wherever. It's just not New York.
When not editing Thrillist, the enviably long-of-title David Blend spends his time defending the Cowboys and missing Tex-Mex food. He's also tweeted over 9,000 times, so follow him @daveblend.