Since moving to New York City, I’ve come to understand why so many people from here felt so down when they came to my little podunk hometown of Sanford, NC. New York City really is that much cooler in so many ways. Don’t get me wrong. I love my hometown for many reasons. This big city, though, is a completely different scale.
First, there are the sights. There is always something to see in NYC. Whether it’s people-watching in Times Square, taking the water taxi across to Brooklyn, walking a new area of Central Park (still all new to me), or finding yet another great museum to see, you can always see something amazing and new here. I still haven’t been to the 9/11 Memorial, The Intrepid Air and Space Museum, The Statue of Liberty, or Queens.
There are the neighborhoods. Washington Heights is a wonderful place to live, but New York has a lot of them. Chinatown itself can be a different place depending on whether you’re on Canal St or one of the smaller side streets. I much prefer the side streets, because they’re full of small shops and stands and some of the most amazing seafood. Hell’s Kitchen, SoHo, TriBeCa, they’re all different, interesting, and absolutely great for a walk.
Oh, and the food. I cannot say how many fantastic meals I have had since moving to New York City. The local bar’s burgers are perfection. We have a favorite Irish pub near Times Square that fills the comfort food need from time to time. The pizza is better here. The sushi is better here, though it would be in any large coastal city. Almost any food you want you can find, and it is probably delicious. We’re talking “Lockjaw’s Mama’s Cooking” levels of deliciousness here.
You see, New York City has a lot of restaurants. New York City probably has a lot of restaurants within three blocks of you in most areas of the city. This means you have choices. If you discover a restaurant has bad food, you never have to go there again. As a result the bad restaurants don’t last. The good restaurants do. The mediocre restaurants are at least cheap, but the converse is not true. You don’t have to pay a lot for a delicious meal.
Hell’s Kitchen’s HK Diner is a good example. This isn’t a place you go for bacon and eggs and a side of toast. They serve a higher class of brunch faire. My initial favorite was the HK Fritatta with peppers, onions, tomato, lamb sausage, and an avacado spread. I moved on to the lobster eggs benedict soon after. I’ve had the steak and eggs and the salmon burger. Everything was fantastic and nothing cost more than $20 for the plate.
I think the best thing about New York City is that I can decide I want to do something at pretty much any time of the day or night. I can probably find something, somewhere, to do, eat, visit, or just see.
New York is also a busy place. There are people everywhere. As you walk down the street in many places you can be within 20 feet of a dozen or more people. In some areas it can get quite dense. Once you realize that none of those other people care about you at all, though, it’s much less uncomfortable. Now I can feel as alone walking through Times Square as I did walking around the block back home.
There’s nothing quite like it, though, to walk around the block back home alone. The little three-block-long downtown may not be the hub of the city anymore, but it is definitely more dog-poop-free than New York’s streets.
Oh wow, yeah. That’s right. New York City’s streets are COVERED with dog poop. Most dog owners pick up after their dogs. Unfortunately there is this one little old lady with three very productive beagles that walks the streets night and day. I would guess that, on average, I see signs of dog poop once per block. Well, each block has four sides, so that’s four. Maybe six. The bottom line is that I dodge more poop in this city than I used to when I walked through cow pastures barefoot.
Back home in Sanford I can drive my car through the countryside. I can smile and say Hello to people on the street, if there are any there. I can go to Wal-Mart, and while I’m there I can say Hi to people I know from high school. I can easily find a normal breakfast joint where the staples of the meal are meat and eggs, and not bagels. Grits.
As much as I love New York City, my hometown is still a cool place to me. It’s small, but growing. It’s quiet, but comfortable. It has a smaller selection of restaurants, but it has Mom’s cooking. All in all, how can I choose which is cooler?
New York. WAY cooler.