Is New York City My Ideal Date?
If New York City were to have a dating profile its bio would say: “Here to spice up your life depending on what happens. Normally busy with the millions of other people that reside here. Good with pets.”
It would include a profile photo of a glossy skyscraper with tinted windows in the background. The forefront consisting of a stranger walking various pure-bred dogs like a Chow Chow; the dogs with the reddish fur of a fox that entraps their snout or the way a mane would frame a lions face. It’s paws not daring to fully touch the smoky gray sidewalk coated in germs of every single bacteria you can’t possibly imagine. After hours of mindlessly swiping through other profiles, the mundane option would to be to swipe past this one too.
Yet, one would be a fool to decline New York City, right?
The qualities that this city employs enchants you. It isn’t even the silly vivid lights that everyone talks about. It’s more the accompaniment the city itself provides. The moments of solitude on the train, blasting Frank Ocean in your ears while peering outside a dusty train window. It’s the embodiment of a low quality indie film, rr prancing down the street and knowing where you’re going. That walk that you carry with purpose. It doesn’t exist anywhere else. In fact, everyone else is too slow.
The moment however, when New York held me in it’s grasp was a walk I took down the Lower East Side. It was the day after my friend Hannah’s birthday. The night before we had stayed in one of those overpriced city hotels with a view. It was across the street from the best carrot cake I’d ever had at Sarahbeth’s. Overpriced like hell, but they treated us as if we were the most posh people in the world. With our “evening dresses” that were no more than $40, far too short to even be considered a cocktail dress.
I remember the day after I woke up with a major headache. Maybe it was the late-night snacks we acquired at a deli. It was an assortment of Doritos, Honeybuns, Cosmic Brownies, weird-tasting kettle-cooked chips. Or perhaps it was the hour I spent out on the balcony taking in the wintery-air in a pair of knock-off Victoria Secret jammies. The pink striped two-piece set that wrapped my body in a cheap silky-like blanket.
Nevertheless, I said my goodbyes in the morning sun, waving or perhaps shaking my hand and raced down to the Lower East Side. I recalled going there to see the Tenement Museum when I was younger. The literal envelope boxes people used to live in flashed through my mind. Although, the spaces here are still the same in some aspects.
Anyone who says otherwise is definitely from Middle America and is focused on unconsciously gentrifying Brooklyn. Regardless, the Lower East side beckoned and a hopeless romantic answered. Despite being late to a workshop scheduled on an invisible checklist present in my mind, an almond croissant was still purchased at a corner deli with locals bartering the price of cigarettes.
I was surrounded by the smell of pounds of bacon. It’s a meaty almost burnt odor. The type that clings to clothes if resided in too long. Bites were soon taken, with crumbs slipping out of the corners of my mouth and on to the concrete floor. No one seemed to actually notice. I was just another person strolling down the block Passing by the polluted green-toned waterfront with joggers racing past me with their FitBits and wireless headphones. To them another blurry face that was a bustling New Yorker was passing by. They were the same to me. Which is why I fell in love. That knowing of being in someone’s else’s story and them being in mine excited me. Only a small part however, like the tree in Into the Woods.
My mind wandered too far, shuffling with my phone was when I realized I’d taken a detour. The Maps app was opened, my destination typed in. The half-finished almond croissant dropped into the trash. My mouth wiped of it’s crumbs. Lip Balm reapplied, Blistex of course. Prepared, I zoomed past the luxury condos, the projects, more delis, and arrived. I had arrived at the end of my date with New York.
– by Valerie Rodriguez ’20