50 Years of New Yorkers
This month marked the 50th anniversary of one of my favorite magazines, New York. In honor of the past 50 years of not only reporting but letting readers into the lives and intimacies of genuine New Yorkers, the magazine dedicated a spread to personal stories from public figures about why/how New York is so special to them.
As my own contribution to this special occasion, I’ve decided to write about my own feelings for New York—because I’m certain that the editors at NYMag have been scouring the Internet for weeks, frantically refreshing my blog as they await my response!
Imagine being sick. Sick in your body and sick in your mind. Sicker than you’ve ever been in your entire life, yet you’re the only person who can’t see it. In these trying times, we typically turned to loved ones to help us through. Someone to push us to get better, to strive for health, to be our best selves. I had quite a few people reach out to me last summer and before, but I pushed them away. Instead, I let a city be my savior.
This sounds overly melodramatic, but it’s true. When I moved to New York for my internship last summer, I was in a very strange stage in my life. I needed help and yet I refused to admit it. I isolated myself from everyone, opting to live my entire life in my own head.
Again, this isn’t to say that no one tried. I made the decision to ignore any and all efforts. However, there is one person who I let in, and it wasn’t exactly a person: it was New York.
This is sort of a touchy subject, because many people have approached me and told me that they KNEW something truly worrisome was going on when I posted pictures from New York—I had gotten significantly skinnier. And they’re not wrong. I did lose weight in New York. I did exercise a lot more (I walked everywhere and usually remained standing on the subway, even when there were seats) and didn’t increase my calories to make up for it. In many ways, living there made my eating disorder worse. But I still remember it as one of the happiest times in my life.
It’s difficult for me to write about my time there because it’s truly difficult to describe. It was everything.
I lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment with two women in the fashion/PR industry. I don’t know how I got so lucky matching up with them (I interned at a fashion magazine), but someone was looking out for me.
I walked to Whole Foods every Saturday morning for my weekly groceries. I got coffee at Silver Moon Bakery near Columbia University. I got a mani-pedi once in the West Village. I brought my yoga mat to Central Park.
There’s a shit load of depression that goes along with having anorexia, but there are also brief moments of deluded happiness. This is where rituals come into effect, and New York gave me that.
Anorexia tends to either cause or support pre-existing obsessive-compulsive disorder. Everything has to be perfect, everything has to be YOUR way. In New York, I could have everything my way.
It was my first time living away from home. I read all day long when I wasn’t at the magazine. I sat at Washington Square Park with a cup of pudding and people-watched. I worked on my writing at a coffee shop. I bought laundry detergent at the corner bodega. I sneered at tourists.
This was my routine, my rituals to get through the day. I was on my own and I had created this new, quiet little life for myself in Manhattan, the city that eats people alive.
Have you ever felt so in love with a person that you just sort of stare at them for a while? You just sort of think about how lucky you are, how you’ll do anything to hold onto it and never let it go? Well I have. It’s a beautiful feeling to have so much faith in one person, but I’ve also felt this for a place. I’ve felt this for New York.
I’ve been on the subway sandwiched in between a guy with the worst B.O. I’ve ever smelled and an old lady who wouldn’t stop farting and closed my eyes to take in how happy I was. I’ve walked so much that my knees practically gave out and kept walking out of excitement and anticipation for what was ahead. I sat at my favorite bench in Central Park on my last day and cried like a baby. I stared at the view of the Upper East Side and promised to never forget it.
I love you, New York. See you soon XOXO.