Ciao, Manhattan
My first summer in New York City was 1999. Fendi baguettes, pashminas, and Indian-inspired fashion were all the rage; Jennifer Lopez's "If You Had My Love" was the song of the summer; and the economy, flush with dot-com cash, was, in a word, great. It was the summer I discovered Sex and the City, morning coffee carts, sample sales, and my favorite drink to this day, Stoli Vanil and ginger ale. It was the summer I fell in love with Manhattan. I was here for a magazine internship, and I dragged two of my best friends, EF and JS, with me. We toughed it out for a month in NYU housing and then, almost effortlessly, found a sublet in the East Village, a quirky fifth-floor walk-up a block away from B-Bar, where we inevitably ended up every night. We threw a blowout party and narrowly avoided being busted by the cops. I walked to work, in Gramercy Park, every day. At the end of August, my internship over, I cried in the taxi on the way back to the airport.

I came back to stay less than a year later. My roommate CW and I ended up in the most random apartment ever, in Murray Hill, but it had a washer and dryer in the kitchen, and from the apartment, you could get anywhere in Manhattan in 20 minutes. Really. I got a job in magazine publishing; I went bar-hopping; I shopped. September 11th happened, and my love for New York only deepened. CW left the city for law school and I moved to the West Village, to my favorite apartment to date, a small but quiet aerie overlooking the neighborhood. If the wind was blowing in the right direction, I'd get a faint whiff of burgers from Corner Bistro, a scent that, trust me, is simply divine, even when it's in your apartment. I spotted celebs while running errands--Julianne Moore at the dry cleaner, Liv Tyler at the deli, Amy Sedaris at the coffee shop. While browsing the remainder tables at Biography Bookshop, I turned up my nose at the tourists waiting in line for Magnolia Bakery (I'll take the banana pudding over the cupcakes any day). I'd wander the small, irregular streets, trying to get lost on purpose, just so I could find my way home.

Most importantly, the West Village is where MW and I fell in love. Which was why, when we decided to finally move in together, it was really hard for me to leave. At the time, moving to the East Village seemed logical: We could get more space for less money, we'd be closer to more of our friends, and we wouldn't have to deal with the entitled masses who were now clogging the West Village's once-neighborhoody bars and restaurants. And, hey, I loved living in the East Village several years ago. But as we discovered, just because you love something when you're 21 doesn't mean you'll love it when you're 29. Also, the neighborhood has changed a bit since I lived here last. Gone are the quiet, hipster-clogged bars and undiscovered hole-in-the-wall restaurants; the East Village is now where everyone in the city goes to get drunk. Not drink--I mean get drunk. Case in point: on New Year's Eve, one of our guests observed a girl, dress hiked up and underwear in hand, peeing on our front stoop. Add that to the fact that half the crazy people in the neighborhood appear to live in our building--our downstairs neighbor likes to drill at 2 a.m., our next-door neighbors yell at each other all day long without ever growing hoarse--and MW and I concluded that drastic measures were required.

So we're moving to Brooklyn.

Sure, people have been complaining about how Manhattan has become a playground for the rich, that it's turning into one big mall, that it's played out and boring. All of these things are partially true, but they're not why I'm leaving. Maybe it's because I'm getting old and all I want is peace and quiet; maybe it's because Manhattan has a way of wearing me down; maybe the best way for me to truly appreciate Manhattan is not to live in it. I don't really know why I'm leaving, to be honest, but what I do know is that I'm over it. Sure, I'll miss being able to walk anywhere. I'll also miss all the health-food stores and vegan-friendly restaurants. And the nice Chinese lady who passes out the A.M. New Yorks every morning at the Second Avenue subway stop. And let's not forget the shopping. But I won't miss the noise, the people everywhere at all hours, or the anxiety that both of those things cause me. But you know what? If I do miss any of these things, I'll just take a subway ride back. After all, Manhattan is only a bridge (or tunnel) away.

Sorry for the lack of posts this week; I'm taking the rest of the week off to move. But I'll be back, better than ever, on Monday, coming to you from leafy, sleepy, and, yes, quiet Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the neighborhood! I, too had reservations about moving to Brooklyn after living in Manhattan for a few years, but I love it here! Cobble Hill is a great neighborhood -- so many great shops and (cheap!) restaurants, Target just steps away, and so many transportation can get to SoHo in 15 minutes and the LES in less than 10.

I love your blog and I'll be looking forward to hearing about about your Brooklyn shopping adventures!

Anonymous said...

Ditto the above. You'll love it here. And when it gets hot, go to the Red Hook pool.

Check out Dear Fieldbinder and Sir on Atlantic Ave. Butter is there too, but they are quite snobby.

As for the local feel, check out Stinky Brooklyn and their wine shop Smith and Vine.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fieldbinder is great! I love their window displays, so enticing. Diane T on Court Street has lovely things, though their staff is the worst -- why must they be so bitchy? I am there to spend money!

So many other great local treasures...Sahadi's (specialty grocery store)...Apt. 138, Stan's Place, Bar Tabac (great for brunch or anytime)...Lobo & Pacifico for great Mexican...Joya...
Frankie's 357...Bacchus...tasty desserts from One Girl Cookies and Betty's Bakery (don't waste your time on those cupcakes at Downtown Atlantic -- they look great, taste awful!)

Have fun exploring!

A-T-G said...

I feel your pain/pleasure at leaving The City! I had it too but, on the opposite coast! I still miss living in SF...I wasn't ready to leave it when I got married but, my husband absolutely (and rightly) refused to cross ANOTHER bridge to get to work! So now I sit in Berkeley, and I gotta admit that I love it here. The city is only a 15 minute drive away (or a 30 min. BART ride). Having a nice house with my own yard is a def perk to leaving!

Congrats on your move! Enjoy the new place!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that I got teary eyed as i remembered the good times that summer. that party was definitely a top three party i've ever been involved in throwing :) love you and call me once you get settled!

mina k said...

lol, remember when you were the only friend of mine who got outraged when I decided to move to brooklyn? welcome to the dark side.