Living in New York or a Panegyric on My Daughter

If you can make it there…

Fred Ebb

Heralded as the capital of the world. The biggest port of entry for immigrants to the United States.  I know, forty years ago, I flew to New York on a big Pan Am 747 sitting next to a catholic nun.  It was foggy and we couldn’t land.  The pilot was circling the airport, awaiting our turn.  Then I noticed she was praying.  “Anything wrong?” I asked.  “Oh nothing” she answered. “I was flying to New York two weeks ago.  It was foggy, just like today, and two of the circling planes collided in midair.”

“Welcome to the United States” I thought.

Our plane landed safely.

I can’t claim I know the city, but I was there enough to have an opinion.  Music, opera, symphony, there is no better place in the world to experience the best performers and performances.  Museums – one can spend an entire day and then more to immerse in a particular period of art, looking at the objects and learning how they were created.  And museum cafeterias are generally more than decent.  The Broadway plays alone are worth a trip to this big city.  I remember dancing in the aisles during the “Mamma Mia” musical.  I grew up with ABBA.

The food is incomparable.  In a huge competition, only the best can survive.  I remember on a recent trip to Long Island visiting a Polish deli, eating authentic dishes and speaking the language.  It was a treat hard to forget.

As every more than average sophisticated woman can tell you, the ability to shop for clothes in New York is a dream come true.

And there are people.  Contrary to popular opinions, I always found locals to be polite and eager to help. I do remember times before Giuliani’s era, and there is a huge difference between then and now.

But all these amenities come with a price.  The residence in New York was always a survival of the fittest.  One had to learn how to make proper choices and how to compromise.

To live in a place like that was always a challenge. My daughter ended in New York right after college in 2010.  Got a job, found an apartment, found friends. Didn’t like her job – found another one and changed it. Didn’t like small place with four other roommates – looked for and found a bigger place.  Worked hard, quite often after hours.  Learned how the big-city system works and how to use it. She experienced two nor’easters and even a complete blackout during Sandy.  Filled bathtub with water, had enough power for flashlights, and may be a glass of wine or two.  No whining, no complaining and no “I am coming back home” stuff.

I have a friend with whom I attended music school in Warsaw.  She ended up in New York, playing violin for the New York Philharmonic.  A huge deal, and I admire her for it.  She recently retired, and New York is her home.  I am sure she wouldn’t change her place for anything and to anywhere in the world.  For me, however, this is a perfect town to visit, enjoy the best city has to offer and then go home, to a slower and more quiet pace.

Having said so, I think New York is an ideal place for young people with all the social interactions, tar beach parties, meeting your friends while walking on the streets of Manhattan, ever-changing scenery and dizzying pace of life.

As for a lack of sleep – the city doesn’t sleep anyway.  One will sleep when one will be old.

It is three years and a half since Megan came to New York, and she did what many others couldn’t.  She stayed there, supported herself and enjoyed the best things the place has to offer.  I admire her for it. That’s my daughter!

As for money:

New York is the place, where you earn enough money to buy you out of problems which don’t exist anywhere else.

The place where you grow up in a hurry.

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