It’s that time of year again. With the beginning of December and all things festive comes the annual year-end trip to New York City. Le sigh.
Each of my three employers over the last eight years has had a reason for such a trip. And while you’d think I’d enjoy the The Empire State around the holidays, the truth is that it only makes the city slightly more enjoyable to me. If I normally give it one out of 10 stars, it gets a whopping two stars around Christmas…and only because of the myriad twinkle lights.
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with NYC for the last ten years. I wanted to love it, but it didn’t love me back. I might’ve asked too much of it too soon after 9/11 — I’m really not sure. But when you’re in the mood to put yourself out there only to not be met by the open arms that so many others have experienced, it stings.
When I see pictures of the city, I fondly recall tea and decadent desserts with a friend at a quaint establishment near MoMA.
I remember formal events, fantastic food and exciting cocktails.
I remember the endearing, rickety-sounding cabs which groaned of being beat up by pothole-laden streets.
I remember ice skating at Rockefeller Center.
I remember riding the double-decker red tour bus around the city with my mom when she visited me during my stint in Connecticut.
And while these are all great moments in my memory, I’d just as soon never see the city again. From above, it’s beautiful. Magical. Sparkly. Flying over it isn’t a problem.
Down below, it’s gritty, anything but warm and fuzzy — and it’s definitely not home. It inspires a claustrophobic feeling in me each time I cross into Manhattan, and every breath feels like it could be my last. The pace might just squeeze the life out of me.
Many love it, but it’s not for me — the same way my suburbs and quiet nights in may not be for them. Miles of concrete pave the way for the movers and shakers, the doers and the tireless. I need softness beneath my feet — more softness than a centrally located park can offer, and trees that grow in land larger than a three by three-foot square. I move slowly, and I rarely shake; I do, but I also wear out quickly. The city is not a place where one can hibernate.
And I need to hibernate sometimes.
I wrote a breakup letter to New York City around this time last year, and while the breakup did, in fact, happen, there still are times when we need to peacefully coexist. We need to find a way to tolerate each other, to live and let live.
Though I can think of other places I’d rather be, tonight I’m thankful that my time in The Big Apple will be limited to about 36 hours once I’m on the ground and that the clients with whom I’ll be meeting are among the nicest in the industry.
It may not be at the top of my destination list, but I’ll play New York’s game, smile, stick to my script, play by the rules, snap some photos of its twinkly offerings and will hope that next holiday season the journey may be a bit easier to make.