Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Monday, September 26, 2005

What's It Like To Live in New York?

I get asked that every so often. I'm never prepared with an answer, because it feels like an odd question. I grew up here, so it's not completely a new thing. But this is the first time I've lived in New York not with my parents. And the first time I've lived in New York where Manhattan is actually accessible. My parents live in Brooklyn, but in a part of Brooklyn that's beyond where the subway lines end, and so the trip into Manhattan ends up taking about an hour and a half, involving a half-mile walk, to a 25-minute bus ride, to 45 minutes or more on the train. I went to high school in Manhattan, and the trip was close to 2 hours each way, because I did it by bus. Last summer working for the law firm, I left the house by 8:00 to make it to work by 9:30. As far as I'm aware -- and, verified by a phone call, as far as she's aware -- my mom has not been to Manhattan since my high school graduation, over 5 years ago. It's like a different city. My grandmother, who lives 5 blocks from my parents, goes into Manhattan with friends fairly often. But it's a trek.

So, in a way, now that I'm a relatively speedy 25-minute subway ride from Manhattan -- or, if I'm in the mood, a do-able but fairly solid walk (about 3 and a half miles, according to Mapquest... or a little under an hour, taking a slightly indirect route, for me last Sunday night) over the Brooklyn Bridge -- it's a different experience living here than it was before. At least I feel like I live in the same city as people who are living in Manhattan.

Which gets me back to the original question. What's it like to live in New York? Well, it's neat. When I was a kid, I never thought I'd want to live in New York as an adult, because it seemed crowded and dirty and unsafe. Part of that is because it was, at least more so than it is now. Part of that is because my family thinks it's true to a greater extent than it is. Part of that is because when I was a kid (and to some degree, even now) lots of things seem crowded and dirty and unsafe. Even if they're not. But I think most of it is that as a kid I didn't realize the good things that New York has to offer.

I lived in Austin, Texas for a year and a half in between college and law school. I lived in Cambridge for law school and Princeton for college. So, not a great variety of experiences, but a little bit I guess.

The coolest thing about New York is that there's an amazing amount of cultural stuff to do. I can go see some relatively cheap theater or music or an independent movie or a museum or a book reading every day of the week and still wouldn't come close to scratching the surface of what's around. Some of those things I don't do even though I can. I haven't been to a museum in New York since last summer, and the third most recent time I went to a museum in New York was probably for a high school art class, 6 or 7 years ago. I've been to one book reading in four months. I've seen three musical performances. But I've probably seen a few dozen comedy or theater events -- if I combine improv comedy, stand-up, and "real" theater. Most of it pretty darn cheaply (like, less than 20 bucks). And that's pretty cool.

Or maybe the coolest thing about New York is there's lots of interesting and cheap food.

Actually, the coolest thing is probably just that a pretty big proportion of my friends and family live in New York, and if they didn't, I'd probably want to live wherever they did, and that would override any of the other factors.

But I wasn't the one who asked the question.