My friend is raising her two daughters – I can never remember how old they are. 8 & 9, I think – in Manhattan. I can’t help but be super jealous of their childhood. The Manhattan Bridge is what they see when they look out the window. MoMA, Broadway and the Central Park Zoo are their playgrounds. So cool!
I grew up in the suburbs, but I remember meeting people from cities in college. They all had this air of confidence to them. They didn’t get overwhelmed by the bus schedule or even by having to take the bus places. They were completely comfortable around people who were different than them. I wanted a piece of that.
The picture of cities that was painted for me was that that’s where people who couldn’t afford nice homes in the suburbs lived. That’s where the crime was. Cities are home to problems. Suburbs are home to the polite and problem-free.
Once I got out of my hometown, I realized what I thought was not true at all. The city was where all the fun was. Baseball games are played downtown. Concerts and plays don’t take the tour to small towns. Cities are full of great food, parks and jobs. It’s where you have to go for the latest trend in yoga classes. You know why big cities have the biggest population? It’s because that’s where people want to live.
My co-workers and I discussed this at happy hour last night. Now keep in mind, we’re all people who chose to live in New York City – four in Manhattan, two in Brooklyn – but we all came from different places. One grew up in New York City, went away for college and returned. She said she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. She knew from a young age that this is where she wanted to be. Another was born in the Bronx, then moved to the suburbs. She would visit her cousins in the city and be so jealous that she wasn’t a city dweller. A third – the one with the two city kids – grew up in upstate New York and knew that was not the place for her. She was a city girl. I didn’t know until college that the city would be my home.
I’m curious. When did you decide which kind of person you are?